BBC Radio Guernsey InterviewBBC Radio Guernsey

Date:                 12 April 2018

Topic:               Potato Peel Pie Book Discussion

Presenter:      Jenny Kendall-Tobias – BBC Radio Guernsey

Guests:            Anne Allen – Author of The Guernsey Novels
Pippa McCathie
Yvonne Ozanne

Listen to the interview

KEY INTERVIEW POINT 1

Jenny: Anne, what did you think of the book?

Anne: Well, I read it initially, probably nearly 10 years ago and to be honest I am not really keen on books that are written in letter form anyway. So that wasn’t a great start, I did find it a little slow to begin with because of the format. I only read it because of the Guernsey connection and as has been mentioned, I was irritated by the fact that it didn’t come across as authentic Guernsey. And that was sort of off-putting, because once you are irritated by something it’s hard then to see it for what it is.

I read it again a few weeks ago, because of the film coming out – which I am really looking forward to seeing, anyway, because I want to see that as a form of entertainment. I am just going to try and forget the Guernsey connection if you like. It is witty, I would say it’s nostalgic. To me it evokes the M.C Beaton type writing, you know where they are sort of very gentle. It is meant to be in the 40s anyway. So, as I say; nostalgic, quirky. But it didn’t grab me from the Guernsey point of view. If that makes sense. I did feel that it was a shame that there wasn’t more authenticity there. I think Yvonne raised the point about that. No local names which really annoyed me and I am not a Guern, but having lived there and write about it, I always use Guernsey names in my own books because I feel that is important. I quote place names, street names, etc. Because I can, and they are there to be quoted.

KEY INTERVIEW POINT 2

Anne: I haven’t come across any more modern books that should be filmed. The trouble is, as we have already established, it is difficult to film anything in Guernsey that is set so long ago. It would possibly have to be more contemporary for it to work.
Pippa: Yours are!

Anne: Well, I didn’t like to say! Actually, my readers tell me that they would love to see my books made into film or onto television because they are very visual.

Pippa: Yes, they would. I think your style would work really well transferred to screen.

Anne: Thank you very much. Any votes of…? (laughs) I get readers who love the Potato Peel book and then they read my books. I do have American followers, possibly they have come to my books, because they have read that – I don’t know.

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE BBC RADIO GUERNSEY INTERVIEW

Jenny: Hello Anne!

Anne: Hello Jenny, nice to speak to you again.

Jenny: It’s lovely to speak to you too. Which part of the world are we talking to you from?

Anne: I’m in Devon. A bit of a grey Devon, which is probably matching grey Guernsey at the moment, is it – ladies?

Jenny: Yes

Yvonne: It’s quite misty and murky and foggy. In fact, we are wondering if the stars are going to get over.

Anne: It would be a bit of a downer, wouldn’t it?

Jenny: It would. Because John is very excited about being on stage with them this evening. He’s getting a seat and everything. He might even comb his hair, we don’t know.

Jenny: Anne, what did you think of the book?

Anne: Well, I read it initially, probably nearly 10 years ago and to be honest I am not really keen on books that are written in letter form anyway. So that wasn’t a great start, I did find it a little slow to begin with because of that I think. I only read it because of the Guernsey connection and as has been mentioned before, I was irritated by the fact that it didn’t come across as authentic Guernsey. And that was sort of off-putting, because once you are irritated by something it’s hard then to see it for what it is.

I read it again a few weeks ago, because of the film coming out – which I am really looking forward to seeing, anyway, because I want to see that as a form of entertainment. I am just going to try and forget the Guernsey connection if you like. It is witty, I would say it’s nostalgic. To me it evokes the M.C Beaton type writing, you know where they are sort of very gentle. It is meant to be in the 40s anyway. So, as I say; nostalgic, quirky. But it didn’t grab me from the Guernsey point of view. If that makes sense. I did feel that it was a shame that there wasn’t more authenticity there. I think Yvonne raised the point about that. No local names which really annoyed me and I am not a Guern but having lived there and write about it, I always use Guernsey names in my own books because I feel that is important. I quote place names, street names, etc. Because I can, and they are there to be quoted.

Yvonne: It’s almost as if as an author, you would always want the pride and the sense of being able to quote – I don’t know, if you are writing about Paris, then mentioning Champs Elysées.

Pippa: You need to get your research right. That is one of the most important things, because somebody out there is going to know when you get it wrong.

Anne: That’s right. The fact is I am writing now and I do go over frequently and I saw Pippa recently at one of the Lit fests, I think.

Pippa: Yes, we did, we did and I have read your first two. Yes.

Anne: So, basically I feel that if I didn’t write it accurately if you like, I wouldn’t be able to show my face there! (laughs)

Jenny: Anne, I have been having a discussion with some of the authors at the Alderney literary festival recently and the research that they go into is incredible. I think that it was Robin Young who writes about Medieval history in her books.

Anne: Oh gosh.

Jenny: She even learnt to be a falconer.

Anne: That is taking things seriously – isn’t it?

Jenny: She has even fired black powder to work out how the early guns work and to describe the smell of the sulphur.

Anne: Wow

Pippa: Another thing, the one that I have just sent off is based in South Wales. Getting the structure of the language right, the way people speak. I mean they will swap words round in order, which if you are not from South Wales you would not use that. You would use phrases – you know, like she has got as many faces as the Tredegar clock is one, and the Tredegar clock has four faces. I would go back to my friends in Wales, we lived there for years, I go back to my friends in Wales and I say, I want to say this. How would you say it?

Jenny: So you don’t think that sort of research reflected in the this novel at all?

Pippa and Anne: Not, not all.

Yvonne: I think going back to Ebenezer Le Page, this was the charm of the book and that was also very successful in America. So, there is no excuse for not using correct expressions. For example, he says “worrow” for hello and that sort of thing, which is very Guernsey.

Jenny: And Anne, do you think that of all the books that could have been converted into a film, do you think that there are better books about Guernsey?

Anne: Well, I think Ebenezer Le Page is fantastic but I would think that would be quite difficult to film.

Jenny: Yes

Anne: That’s the trouble with that one, it’s so long and goes over so many years. Doesn’t it?

Jenny: Yes

Anne: I haven’t come across any more modern, the trouble is, as we have already established – it is difficult to film anything in Guernsey that is set so long ago. It would possibly have to be more contemporary.

Pippa: Yours’s are!

Anne: Well, I didn’t like to say! Actually, my readers tell me that they would love to see my books made into film or onto television because they are very visual.

Pippa: Yes, they would. I think your style would work really well transferred to screen.

Anne: Thank you very much. Any votes of…? (laughs) I get readers who love the Potato Peel book and then they read my books. I do have American followers, possibly they have come to my books, because they have read that, I don’t know.

Yvonne: You say that it would be difficult for a film or book written long ago to be filmed in Guernsey. But, I have just read that there is a television company that are going to re-create Gormanghast again.

Anne: Right

Pippa: But that is sort of fantasy, isn’t it? You can do that, you could CGI quite a lot of that.

Jenny: Is that Mervyn Peake?

Jenny: Can anyone name any other films set in Guernsey? And I throw this to you all at home.

Anne: I can name one set in Sark,

Pippa: An appointment with Venus.

Anne: No, that’s not it. The other one.

Pippa: That was Guernsey though

Anne: it was set around Dixcart, the man who grew wings. I forgot his name.

Pippa & Jenny: That was Mervyn Peake

Anne: Mervyn Peake – was it.

Anne: Mr Pye?

Jenny: Yes, Mr Pye.

Sub-Note: The novel and film was called Mr Pye and was filmed in Sark.

Anne: It was actually filmed in Sark

Pippa: They did.

Jenny: There are six including this latest one. Six films which have been set in Guernsey. But, what are they?

Anne: Oh, gosh.

Pippa: Oh, come on. You didn’t say anything about a quiz.

Chorus: No

Jenny: I have just made this up

Pippa: We would have looked it up!

Anne: Have these been filmed in Guernsey recently?

Jenny: No, they are fairly old films. One is from 1953.

Jenny: This one is from 1973. One is based on a 1955 novel by Jean Paul Clebert.

Pippa: Oh god.

Jenny: Okay. And it was filmed entirely in Guernsey in 1973 and was entered into the 23rd Berlin International Film festival. Another one was made in 1947, produced by MGM and based on a novel by Elizabeth Goudge.

Pippa and Yvonne: Oh Yes

Yvonne: Green dolphin country

Jenny: Green dolphin street

Anne: Wonderful

Jenny: The film was called. And again it was about a guy writing a letter proposing marriage. The other one was made in 2009, written and produced by Franco-Algerian director Rashid Bushared and it starred Brenda Blethyn.

Anne: Oh, wow. Was that a contemporary story?

Jenny: Let me have a look

Pippa: What’s the name of that one?

Jenny: You have got to guess

Pippa: I don’t know

Anne: It can’t have been advertised very well at the time, can it? Because we don’t know about it!

Jenny: I can give you the plot. It was made in 2009 and the plot is this, in July 2005 British protestant Falklands war widow Elizabeth Summers played by Brenda was a Guernsey farmer and Franco-African -Muslim Ousmane are strangers who meet in London. She is searching for her daughter and her for her son, following the London bombings. Neither are close to their missing child.

Anne: Was that partly in Guernsey?

Jenny: No, a Finsbury pub. Apparently

Jenny: I think the connection is that she came from Guernsey

Jenny: There is the one made in 1953 , directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Rock Hudson and the scenes at sea were shot around the channel islands and much of the film was shot on location. Rock Hudson, no less.

Anne: Nobody remembers Rock Hudson being on the Island!

Jenny: Can I put you out of your misery.

Pippa: Please.

Jenny: The Sea Devils

Pippa: Oh Yes.

Anne: No. I don’t know that one.

Jenny: Brian Forbes was in that as well.

Jenny: And of course the story of Adele H. That was written By troufeo and directed by Troife as well which is quite something, We forget all of this don’t we. The other films were the Blockhouse, and London River. So there we are our films set in Guernsey.

Anne: It does mean that is possible then, really.

Jenny: It is, we have had some calls in from our listeners, Thank you very much indeed and feel free to comment on the back of these comments.

TC says “It is a fiction book and a fiction film. We are lucky the writer put Guernsey in the title and not Jersey. We should be grateful it’s helping the Island. On that note, there was something called Another Mothers Son? That film about Jersey, that is fantastic. I really enjoyed that film

Anne: I did, You do realise that is the story that she has almost pinched for The Guernsey book ? Because that is Mrs Gould who was looking after a POW and she was arrested and sent off to concentration camp, which is sort of the story that they have got in the Guernsey Potato Peel book.

Yvonne: yes, it is

Anne: Whether she lifted that story from Jersey, which happened

Jenny: We are not in the business of accusing anyone of plagiarism

Anne: No, it’s not plagiarism it’s just using an event which did happen in another Island.

Jenny: the thing is with a lot of these events, they are going to seem similar aren’t they?

Anne: They are. That one I came across on Netflix or something.

Jenny: Ben in Sweden has got in touch and said, wasn’t one criminal thriller from Guernsey The Persuaders featuring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis or something very close to that. I don’t know Ben your guess is as good as ours.

Anne: We have a film history that we don’t seem aware of.

Jenny: He also says, Ebenezer four question marks, again please.

Jenny: It is a book called Ebenezer Le Page, Pippa just summarise it for our Swedish listener

Pippa: Oh God, I haven’t read it for years.

Yvonne: It’s a Guernsey man who lives with his mother to start with and he is a true Guernsey man, he was like my father. He was very blunt, he is not intellectual in the least. He falls in love with a lady who turns out to be fraternising with the Germans and he said ‘my darling has turned out to be a jerry bag.’

Jenny: Ohhh

Yvonne: It’s very salty, and very authentic.

Pippa: For a while it was sort of the most popular book that had been read on Woman’s hour before they did plays and stuff.

Jenny: Oh, dear Roy Dotrice.

Jenny: Well, Anne thank you very much indeed for being with us. So marks out of ten for accuracy?

Anne: Ooh, five!

Jenny: 5 out of 10

Jenny: Anne, thank you . We hope to see you again in the not too dear distant future.

Anne: Thank you

–End of BBC Radio Guernsey Interview–

NOTES

If you would like to interview Anne Allen about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society novel for your media outlet, please contact her PR Agent.

PR Agent

Contact:        Anna-Lisa Hasedzic

Company:    The Globeflower Agency Ltd

Email:            anna-lisa@globeflower.co.uk

Phone:          07432090223

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