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Thursday, 22 May 2014

FFB - Rachel's Shoe

Peter Lihou’s debut novel Rachel's Shoe (first published in 2008) is a marvellous tale of love, heroism and greed that spans over thirty years, and it has universal appeal. This is not a story about the Holocaust, but it is about the ramifications of that terrible atrocity.

Fifteen-year-old Tom is sailing his boat in the dark to avoid German patrols. He’s only fishing, but the invaders of his island of Guernsey have proclaimed such pursuits illegal. He’s a competent seaman, fortunately, and can avoid the occasional patrol boat. Then one night he meets a young Jewish girl, Rachel, who has run away from the labour camp on Alderney. She’s distressed and he helps her go into hiding. There are tense moments when discovery seems imminent. Woven into the adventure are true events. While the beginning revolves around the children, Tom and Rachel, the story will appeal to all ages, particularly when financial chicanery, murder and assault are thrown into the mix.

Early on, we learn how Rachel’s mother selflessly made a great sacrifice to offer succour for her daughter and how decent people surmounted terrifying odds. The heel of the jackboot did not crush hope on the only British soil to fall to the Nazi menace.

Without a doubt, this story would make a wonderful movie.

It is clear that Peter Lihou knows his Channel Islands and the coastline, because the descriptions at sea are very real. He was born in 1950 and post-war his father, a wartime pilot, tried building a career on mainland England as opportunities in his island home of Guernsey were limited. His parents, sister and Peter returned to the ancestral homeland of Guernsey in the 1960s. Then for many years Peter and his wife and four children lived in the Cotswolds; however, they moved to Guernsey in 2005, where he now indulges his passion for sailing and writing.

 Revised and re-published in 2010, the book is currently in development as a TV serial.

There was a sequel published, The Causeway, in 2010. Both books have since been combined in the book with the uninspiring title Guernsey (Rachel’s Story) 2012, 2014, but don't let that put you off.



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