Hi all! Today I have the pleasure of joining in with Anne Allen’s blog tour for The Guernsey Novels.
Anne’s Annual Pilgrimage to Guernsey for Liberation Day
Thousands of islanders, ex-pats, and tourists celebrate the Channel Islands freedom from German Occupation during WWII every year on 9 May. This year, it was the 73rd anniversary of Liberation Day, when the German High Command surrendered after five dark years of occupying British land.
Author Anne Allen made her annual pilgrimage to the island and joined in with the festivities, which had an even larger attendance this year, due to the recent release of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie.
“I always look forward to returning to Guernsey,” says Anne. “I absolutely love the island, especially its beautiful beaches and wonderful people.”
“On Liberation Day, I celebrated the island’s freedom with my family, friends, and all the islanders.”
Whilst Anne currently resides in Devon, she lived in Guernsey for over fourteen years. She decided to move to the island after enjoying an amazing holiday on the beautiful island. Her love of the island was so strong, she wrote the book series, The Guernsey Novels, as an ode to the island she dearly loves.
“Whilst I conducted research for The Guernsey Novels, I steeped myself into the island’s history, especially its Occupation and eventual Liberation.”
“I was kindly donated a couple of diaries kept by islanders who lived during that time period and it provided me with a very realistic account of what everyday life was like.”
“Food was scarce, tensions were high – it was a dark time for the Channel Islands.”
Anne is a keen amateur historian and has spent years researching the island’s history. In addition to the donated diaries, she was also able to interview some islanders who lived through the German rule and attended the original Liberation Day.
“After five years of hell, I can imagine how much relief the Guerns must have felt when it was announced in the Evening Press that Hitler was dead,” says Anne. “I personally would have been dancing for joy.”
“Excitement would have spread quickly, especially when the SS Vega arrived with supplies. Imagine, being starved for years and finally being able to get biscuits, chocolate, tea, and coffee – that first taste of freedom food would have been heaven,” says Anne.
On Tuesday 8 May 1945 peace was declared, the German high command had surrendered and Victory in Europe (VE) Day was announced. The islanders were informed that they would be liberated the following day, 9 May.
“Thousands of Guerns would have found a way to travel to St Peter Port as early in the morning as possible in order to take part in what was bound to be the biggest celebration of their lifetime,” says Anne.
“Can you imagine what it was like? After five years wondering if you would ever be free, to finally see British troops arriving to liberate you – it must have been absolutely glorious.”
On the morning of 9 May, British troops arrived in the famous HMS Bulldog, which was a B-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy. The troops arrived at White Rock in St Peter Port, then marched down North Esplanade towards the Royal Hotel, which the Germans used as their headquarters.
“They must have made themselves hoarse with all their cheering and happy screams. Local women mobbed the Tommies and tried to get hugs and kisses from the men liberating them. Soldiers handed out small gifts of chocolates and cigarettes and the islanders welcomed them with all their hearts. I get tears in my eyes thinking about the emotions of Liberation Day,” says Anne.
Whilst Anne lived on the island she religiously joined in the Liberation Day celebrations and has paid homage to the island’s liberation in her book series, The Guernsey Novels.
“In my fifth novel Echoes of Time, I used the donated diaries and my interviews of local people to detail how the protagonist would have felt and celebrated Liberation Day. I put myself in their position and used my own emotions too, to convey the sheer joy of liberation,” says Anne.
Anne’s novels have been well received by people from the Channel Islands including fellow author Lara Dearman, who states that she “loves Anne Allen’s Guernsey Novels.” (https://twitter.com/laradearman/status/987343962838130688).
Many islanders have read Anne Allen’s novels and applauded her on her authenticity, stating
“As I live in Guernsey I was able to identify with all the place names etc. It was a gripping story.” says Amazon reviewer Gina, about Dangerous Waters (https://goo.gl/SgZfGh)
“Fabulous story. As I live in Guernsey I could really relate to the story. Read it twice.” (https://goo.gl/7RQQjy)
“I really enjoyed this book, having lived in Guernsey myself, it was very informative about the island and helped me visualise where Jeanne (the protagonist) was throughout the story.” (https://goo.gl/pAbxDf)
“I have worked really hard to make my novels authentic and to showcase to people what a beautiful island Guernsey is,” says Anne. “Some readers have gone on to visit Guernsey for the first-time after reading my novels and have returned time and time again.”
“Many of my readers have also been urging me to have my novels turned into a TV series,” says Anne. “Even Guernsey writer Pippa McCathie commented during a recent BBC Radio Guernsey interview that my style “would work really well transferred to screen.” (https://anneallen.co.uk/bbc-radio-guernsey-potato-peel-pie)
Anne’s visit to Guernsey this year was a mix of business and pleasure. In addition to joining in the Liberation Day festivities, visiting friends and family – she also met with all of the partners for the exciting prize draw to win a holiday to Guernsey.
Pictured below is Anne with Genevieve Langford from Hotel Ziggurat.
Click here to enter…..
Follow the rest of the blog tour for reviews, and more, with these awesome book bloggers…..
About the author…..
Anne was born in Rugby to a Welsh father and an English mother. As a result, she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learned to love the sea. Now she is based in Devon to be near her daughter and two small grandchildren. Her restless spirit has meant many moves, the longest stay being in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. Her younger son is based in London – ideal for city breaks ☺
By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist who long had a desire to write and Dangerous Waters, her first novel, was published in 2012. It was awarded Silver(Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012. Since then she has published three more books in The Guernsey Novels series; Finding Mother, Guernsey Retreat, The Family Divided, and Echoes of Time; winner of The Diamond Book Award 2017, a finalist in Readersfavorite awards and granted a ChillWithABookAward. Book 6, The Betrayal, was published October 2017.
To find out more about Anne visit her website – http://www.anneallen.co.uk
You can also find her on Twitter – @AnneAllen21