GUERNSEY holds a special place in heart of a Rugby-born author.
Anne Allen has penned a series of award-winning books collectively known as the ‘Guernsey Novels’. They are a mix of mystery, family drama, and love story, and influenced by the author’s love of the island where she lived for 14 years.
The second largest of the Channel islands is about to be the focus of worldwide attention with the release of new film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, based on the novel written by the late American author Mary Ann Shaffer.
And while Anne is looking forward to seeing the film she does wish the novel had paid more attention to detail.
She said: “It sold all over the world, although the islanders weren’t happy about the lack of authenticity.
“I wish the author had spent more time on conducting research for her novel. There is very little authentic detail. For example places, surnames, and geography are wrong.”
That is something Anne has always been careful to get right in her five novels to date.
“I lived on the island for 14 years and I conducted very thorough research to ensure my novels are authentic.
“I have tried to ensure I give the names of real restaurants, hotels, roads, and landmarks.
“I also try to check they were in existence in the time period of each novel.
“I’ve been told that tourists use my work as guidebooks to places they have read about.
“The Occupation plays a very great part in the island’s psyche. There are reminders everywhere – I even had a German bunker in my back garden.”
Anne’s journey from Rugby to Guernsey was not without its ups and downs.
Born and raised in landlocked Rugby, Anne always loved being near the sea. Her father was from Anglesey and the family would spend summer holidays visiting her grandparents in the Welsh seaside town of Rhosneigr.
Anne lived in Rugby until her mid-thirties, when her pharmacist husband Michael died suddenly – leaving her to raise their three young children on her own.
During her grieving period, she longed to be near the sea and so moved to Devon.
A few years later she met new friends who invited Anne and her children to visit them in Guernsey where they lived.
At the time Anne did not know what a life-changing event the holiday would prove.
The moment she set foot on the island, she fell in love with Guernsey and decided it was where she wanted to be.
One year later she sold her home in Devon and moved to the island where she fell in love with a local man with whom she lived in a farmhouse on the west coast. In their garden there was a German bunker which her partner renovated and Anne eventually featured in her first novel, Dangerous Waters.
Anne never envisaged leaving Guernsey, but life threw her some curve balls, and she eventually moved back to Devon.
She had always craved creativity, yet never found the time due to being a busy working mum. When they flew the nest, she eagerly put pen to paper. It was during this time her mother, who still lives in Rugby, encouraged her to enter a true-life writing competition in Prima magazine.
She won and has never looked back, and is currently working on her latest novel in the Guernsey series – but she still finds time to return to Rugby to visit her mum, family, and friends.