Mont Saint-Michel and Green Dolphin Street

The setting for Elizabeth Goudge’s 1830’s romance Green Dolphin Street is the 527189fishing town of Saint Pierre in the Channel Islands, off the coast of France, but the Abbey in the story is modeled after the famous Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.  This UNESCO site made the news this week when the causeway connecting the Abbey to the mainland disappeared under a high tide, creating an island cut off by the sea – a phenomenon occurring only every 18 years.

d0f99f7ad5444ac29745fe287f707dcf-d0f99f7ad5444ac29745fe287f707dcf-0-862Goudge’s book. and later the movie with Donna Reed and Lana Turner as the sisters battling for the love of the same man, uses the Abbey as a catalyst for the plot.  Dramatically beautiful scenes of isolation and peaceful seclusion have a daily tide, rather than one every 18 years, surrounding the building – keeping the nuns inside, and trapping unknowing trespassers who venture on the rocks at the wrong time of day.

I recently saw the movie version on my old movie channel (TCM).  The premise is ridiculous – the hero writes a letter asking his true love to join him in a new life in New Zealand but writes the wrong sister’s name (they both begin with M).  All their lives are changed irrevocably, with his true love going off to a life as a nun at the famous Abbey.

My library has an old copy of the book;  inspired by the recent news, I plan to read it –  and to add Mont Saint-Michel to my list of places to visit someday.  Have you been there?



Looking For a Book to Discuss?

When book clubs decide to create a slate for the whole year, the order can be soothing to those who like to plan ahead.  Each year around this time, one of my book clubs starts gearing up for the next calendar year and some cannot wait to add to the list.  But for those who cringe at the thought of trying to find a book that everyone will like (will never happen), and a way to start the discussion (website questions being the norm),  the following list has books –  with assorted possibilities for stirring the pot – questions  the readers could have before starting to read.

I’ve read and reviewed them all (click on the title).

Gone Girl  – mystery/thriller – Did anyone like the ending?  When did you figure it out? How would you write the sequel?  change the ending?

That Woman  – nonfiction – How does Wallis Simpson compare to Princess Diana?  Did the Duke of Windsor really give it all up for her – or was he ready to live outside the responsibility of being King anyway?  How would World War II been different with the Duke in charge?

The Buddha in the Attic  – very short book (144 pages) – How does this story of Japanese Picture Brides differ from any other similar tales you’ve read of brides who were “bought”?  If the brides had switched photographs of their prospective husbands, would it have made a difference?  How are their experiences as wives similar? different?

The Glass Room  – historical fiction – How did the house change with the owners’ lives, with changes in history – World War II?  Imagine yourself in one of the rooms; what would you be doing?  Although the house still actually exists as a World Heritage Site, would the fictional owners have approved?

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It – 11 short stories – Pick one to retell.  Do you prefer reading novels rather than short stories – why? Do you have a favorite short story from another author? (bring it along so someone can read it aloud to the group)

Last year I listed More Ideas for Books to Discuss – no one picked any of the books on the list.

What book would you add to the list?