The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Genre: Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 1
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January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.
What a nice book. Wow, that sound’s awful, calling a book nice, but that’s exactly what it was. And no less sweet for being rather predictable. It’s exactly the sort of book I could picture middle aged women around the country falling in love with. As a younger person I enjoyed the book, but would by no stretch use the word “love.” While the use of written letters as the only story telling device was enchanting and nostalgic, all the characters read like old women, even the men. Still, there was plenty to enjoy.
This is one of the most quotable books I have ever read, especially about books themselves. It’s hard not to love an author who acknowledges our shared love for reading. History mixed beautifully with fiction to create a society that was nearly believable in its eccentricity on an island that, I admit, has captured my imagination. As much as scoffed at the idea of people making pilgrimages to Guernsey as a result of reading this book, it does sound like a lovely place. I’ve always wanted to go to Dover, I suppose it wouldn’t be so hard to squeeze Guernsey in too. I was surprised, though I realized immediately that I shouldn’t have been, when the first concentration camp story made an appearance. Long ago I vowed to never read another after being forced to read Night and spiraling into a month-long depression. While I could have done without them, they did add to the book in an important way. And as much as I would like to forget the Holocaust ever happened, it is vital that we never forget. So I tried not to begrudge the moments when they came. Still, they did hamper my enjoyment.
Overall, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a book that I would recommend to others, but not one I would stay up all night talking about.