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The Book Of Ebenezer Le Page (New York…
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The Book Of Ebenezer Le Page (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1981; edition 2007)

by G. B. Edwards, John Fowles (Introduction)

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5302219,020 (4.41)24
Member:sbodmer
Title:The Book Of Ebenezer Le Page (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:G. B. Edwards
Other authors:John Fowles (Introduction)
Info:NYRB Classics (2007), Paperback, 424 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Guernsey

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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards (1981)

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    Widsith: Two sprawling tales of Guernsey life, one from the great French Romantic master and one from a neo-Romantic native Guernseyman.
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English (19)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
A crabby old man looks back on his life. Narrated in the Guernsey dialect, it's hard to follow until you get used to Ebenezer's way of speaking. Odd and wonderful book with a heartbreaking ending. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
Beautiful fine focus on one man's life. I'd say a small life, but no life is small, and Edwards proves this amply. Warm, compassionate, never sentimental... not a feel-good book, but the right thing to read when nothing in the world feels good.

A friend borrowed this years ago, and I'm feeling the need to get it back. ( )
  lisapeet | Oct 11, 2013 |
I feel inadequate to the task of reviewing this book. It's like asking me to review a person, which is impossible. But that's what this book is. More than any other character I've encountered in a book, Ebenezer comes fully fleshed. I loved him deeply, despite his flaws (or because of them), and because he doesn't bullshit. He has lived eighty odd years and he has no time for bullshit, his or anyone else's, and no reason to either. His language is rich, colloquial. Some will say quaint with a negative connotation, but quaint can also be a positive quality in a world where we are pulled apart by technology, tourism, and material goods, so much so that we can't truly see each other for who we are underneath all that.

The book is divided into three parts, and each with 20 chapters, and each chapter is almost OCD-like in their exact length. I imagined Ebenezer scrawling in his notebook, night after night and story after story, and just stopping when he got to the end of the page. Obviously Edwards (the author of this incredible book) was not Ebenezer, but he created a character through which the book is so real that it feels more a product of this character's handwriting and temperament than the author's own. Which is no easy task because Ebenezer is a complete outsider. He is not someone who's read Literature with a capital L. He's lived his entire life on a small island, and that's a refreshingly wonderful perspective in the world of smart, witty, worldly narrators.

The voice here is meandering and charming. It reminded me of listening to my own grandfather recount stories of his youth. They are almost inconsequential in that the stories don't seem to build into a grander narrative. But precisely because of this inconsequentiality they are rich with characterization and unhurried in their depiction of place, speech, customs, and people. But in part two, we see more of a bigger story building. And by part three, most of the important things in his life have already happened, and we are left with the feeling of being out of time--we are stranded on an island with Ebenezer, looking for a bit of humanity when everyone we love has gone. Stranded on an island with strangers, living in the past.

I related on so many levels with Ebenezer. Like me, he's super critical of others, but when he finds someone he really likes, he goes soft and will walk to the ends of the earth for them. The idea of innocents, Horace in Raymond's eyes, and Jim in Ebenezer's eyes--I am not sure if Ebenezer is not himself one of the innocents, in my eyes.

My review truly does not do this book justice. This is one of the most alive books I've read, and I couldn't help laughing and sobbing (sometimes simultaneously!) through parts of it. It really is that good. Or rather, it is beyond good or bad, it breathes. Now is probably a good time to stop reading this stupid fucking inarticulate review, and go get a copy of this book. NOW! ( )
1 vote JimmyChanga | Sep 11, 2013 |
Some books start out as seemingly light reading but end up affecting us profoundly before we know it. For me, The Book of Ebenezer le Page by G B Edwards was just such a book.

Set from before WWI and into the mid-1960s (ish), this is the life story of the titular character, Ebenezer, as seen through his eyes and written as a memoir. He is a simple man, not highly educated, and has lived on Guernsey and in the same house his entire life. His world is made up of the many friends and family members and other island eccentricities who he, with keen observations and canny people-reading skills, captures in perfect detail and with all their many shades of color. We live his entire life with him as he relates the ups and downs in a tone that is often satirical, sometimes cynical, but never insincere or inconsistent. People around him describe him as a man who always knows his mind and, getting to know this mind, to live in it for the duration of the book, has truly been a wonderful experience.

The book is written in 3 parts as Ebenezer, towards the end of his life, wrote it out in 3 volumes over long evenings by lamplight, living in his solitary old home which had been handed down through the generations. There is some lovely Guernsey patois here – a forgotten, quaint way of speaking now.

While Ebenezer comes across as a cantankerous old man who does not like change (e.g. TV, cars, tourists), it is easy to see that he is also a man who loves and trusts certain people easily and will stand by them to the end, no matter what. Whether that’s his best friend, Jim, two cousins, Horace and Raymond, or his long-time love, Liza, or, in his final days, the young couple, Neville and Adele, who become like the children he never had. Through Ebenezer’s eyes, we get to know and love these people and their stories too. He outlives most of them and yearns for them with a love that is both sweet and strong as ever. Towards the end, when he’s anxiously going around visiting his third/fourth cousins to figure out who to leave his home, belongings and money to, he realizes that the world is full of a different kind of people altogether than the ones he loved and grew up with. His slowly-growing disillusionment is also a sort of grief for the life and people past and gone forever. Neville, who’s every bit the renegade Ebenezer was in his own youth, enters his life at just the right time, giving him hope and bringing back some of the joys of his boyhood friendships.

Read the rest of the review here: http://storyacious.com/book-review-the-book-of-ebenezer-le-page/ ( )
  jennybhatt | Aug 19, 2013 |
I am going to let this book gestate a bit before commenting too much about it. I will say it is one of the most heartwarming books I have ever read. Though there are many characters in the book it is apparent latter on that the reader becomes somewhat intimate with the ones worthy of the warmest feelings. The written quality of the book sneaks up on you. I am giving the book five stars because the book was composed from the author's heart and he didn't much care if we liked it, read it, or not. I am glad he held steadfast in his refusal to change anything. It is perfect in its own special way. I am also appreciative of all my goodreads friends who first made me aware of this book as well as their encouraging remarks that helped in my finishing it. It is an easy book to discount at first glance, but it is a grave mistake if you do so enough to set it down for good. The reward for completing this historical novel is magnificent and is all I can really say. It is a story of a life, and in ways unimaginable, you get to live your own way through it. ( )
  MSarki | Jun 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
IN his introduction to this posthumous novel by a writer hitherto unknown, John Fowles says, ''There may have been stranger recent literary events than the book you are about to read, but I rather doubt it.'' Gerald Basil Edwards (1899-1976) finished this book in 1974, only to have it turned down - incredibly -by publisher after publisher. Yet ''The Book of Ebenezer Le Page'' is one of the best novels of our time.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Guy Davenport (Apr 19, 1981)
 
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Guernsey, Guernesey, Garnsai, Sarnia: so they say.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394516516, Hardcover)

Ebenezer Le Page, a man of the Channel 4 Islands, tells his story from the moment we meet him; in mid sentence, we are spellbound. He is funny and contrary with a furious, loving attachment to the past and an old man's querulous ness towards the now. His is a life crammed rich with family quarrels, tragedies, and neighboring feuds that reach across generations and between sexes. A remarkable creation, this is a hypnotic story of enduring friendships and sorrows, joys and loves, kinships and animosities, a brilliant and intricate novel - a classic.

Edwards has created a unique voice. In his introduction, John Fowles tells us that Edwards "...manages...despite the way characters meander almost haphazardly in and out of his pages, despite the minute stitch of social detail, to carry us through with him, at times to the point where we no longer care how inconsequential or digressive the story becomes, as long as that voice is still speaking."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:40 -0400)

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