Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrows

' I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.' 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.


I had no idea what awaited me when I started this book, I had some knowledge about the Island of Guernsey but none about its history and the period of the German occupation. Not that I felt this about the place, it's much more about people, how they live, love and cope in a time of adversity, but I definitely felt like hopping on a plane and travel there just to see if it was how I imagined it.

The story is told entirely in epistolary format, the common thread is Juliet, a writer, she is on tour and sends letters to her publisher in London retelling what's happening with her life and writing. One day she receives a letter from a man in Guernsey, Dawsey Adams, he bought a second hand book with her contact inside and wants to know if she can help him find more books by the same author as they are scarce in Guernsey. What follows is a rather interesting and funny exchange where we see their personalities reflected. Through his letters Juliet gets to know the Guernsey inhabitants and the story of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club they founded when under the Nazi occupation. Juliet is so intrigued that she eventually decides to travel to Guernsey and not only gets to know them all in person but to write about their experiences during the war.

It's a sweet and charming story, with lots of literary references and with a very cosy feel. You can't help a few laughs while reading it but there's also sadness and tragedy, the main thing I suppose is that you actually feel like you would really like to meet those characters some time. They are that real!

Grade: 5/5

5 comments:

  1. You know how much I loved this novel! I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it too

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  2. Great review - I loved this novel as well!

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  3. Marg and Laura,
    I really loved it! :-)

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  4. Cosy is the right word for it. I really loved this one.

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  5. I'm so happy that you loved this book. I loved it too! :D

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