The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
by G.B. Edwards, introduction by John Fowles
Ebenezer Le Page, cantankerous, opinionated, and charming, is one of the most compelling literary creations of the late twentieth century. Eighty years old, Ebenezer has lived his whole life on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a stony speck of a place caught between the coasts of England and France yet a world apart from either. Ebenezer himself is fiercely independent, but as he reaches the end of his life he is determined to tell his own story and the stories of those he has known. He writes of family secrets and feuds, unforgettable friendships and friendships betrayed, love glimpsed and lost. The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is a beautifully detailed chronicle of a life, but it is equally an oblique reckoning with the traumas of the twentieth century, as Ebenezer recalls both the men lost to the Great War and the German Occupation of Guernsey during World War II, and looks with despair at the encroachments of commerce and tourism on his beloved island.
G. B. Edwards labored in obscurity all his life and completed The Book of Ebenezer Le Page shortly before his death. Published posthumously, the book is a triumph of the storyteller’s art that conjures up the extraordinary voice of a living man.
Recently reprinted by New York Review Books, G.B. Edwards' novel tells the story of a Guernsey man who lived through the Nazi occupation of Britain's Channel Islands into garrulous old age. His reminiscence is couched in a musical Guernsey English that follows circular paths through past and present to delve into island secrets and sagas. Great stuff.
— Seattle Times
There is a rare wholeness about The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. You get the entire man, in a way that isn't usually within the gift of literature to procure...I have read few books of such wide and delightful appeal.... [it] is vast fun and vast life, a Kulturgeschichte...
— Michael Hofmann, London Review of Books
It reads like Beethoven's Ninth...Coated with sea salt, its crannies spilling wildflowers, Edwards's book still roars like some huge shell held, cutting, against your ear.
— The Atlantic
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, by G. B. Edwards, is an inexhaustible book I never tire of giving. It is literally one of a kind, a work with no precedent, sponsorship, or pedigree. A true epic, as sexy as it is hilarious, it seems drenched with the harsh tidal beauties of its setting, the isle of Guernsey...For every person nearing retirement, every latent writer who hopes to leave his island and find the literary mainland, its author—quiet, self-sufficient, tidy Homeric—remains a patron saint.
— Allan Gurganus, O Magazine
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, by G. B. Edwards, is an oddity and a great literary wonder, written in the beautiful French patios of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands...[Edwards] feels intensely about everything and everyone in this deliciously rich novel of longing and love.
Imagine a weekend spent in deep conversation with a superb old man, a crusty, intelligent, passionate and individualistic character at the peak of his powers as a raconteur, and you will have a very good idea of the impact of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page...It amuses, it entertains, it moves us...
— The Washington Post