Transit of Venus

Appointment with Venus is a very odd novel. That may be why I've always rather enjoyed it. I remember seeing the film as a small child and the film is a faithful adaptation of the novel. I even wonder if possibly the film came first and the novel was released as a tie-in. Either way it's an easy read and a great palate cleanser after the storms and darkness of The brothers Karamazov.

Set in 1940, Appointment with Venus is a war novel, but is quite unlike any other I've read. Following the invasion of the Channel Islands, a prize Guernsey cow along with her unborn calf are stranded on a besieged island. British special forces are sent into action to rescue the cow, but the islanders involved in the rescue have far more to lose....

This is a lovely novel. The basic premise is completely daft; but it sits very nicely with that just-post-war world of kooky British Ealing comedy. And underneath the light comic touches there is a much more serious side. For a fun light novel it has a surprisingly dark moving ending.

Jerrard Tickell also wrote the first biography of the French Resistance heroine, Odette Sanson. He was only too well aware of how much ordinary people had to lose in the Second World War. He was also aware of the courage and stoicism shown by so many. Appointment with Venus may generally be a light comic frothy affair, but it does have its serious side, which is made all the more evident by the lightness of tone that it is generally placed against. It's surprisingly effective and remains for me an endearing and moving read.


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