Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


During World War II, the Germans occupied Guernsey in the Channel Islands, so close to France that, apparently, you could see cars on the highway on a clear day. The Germans built heavy fortifications against the islanders, built a concentration camp on Guernsey, and Guernsey’s children were evacuated to England.

Juliet Ashton is an author looking for her next great idea, when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, who lives on Guernsey, about Charles Lamb, to whose works he was introduced through the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The Society came to be in an unusual fashion: one evening after curfew, on their way home, some of its members were stopped by German soldiers, and Elizabeth McKenna had to make something up on the spot. Over time, the members got together whenever they could to talk about what they’d read. That’s how Isola, for example, became addicted to Wuthering Heights.

Juliet lives in a London that was decimated by war; her apartment by the Thames has been lost, as well as all of her books (as you can imagine, horrifying). But her career as a writer is going well, and she has a potential love interest: the handsome and rich Mark. But Juliet’s life changes as she receives more and more letters from the Guernsey Islanders, and she decides that she just might have to pay them a visit

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an utterly charming novel, written in an epistolary fashion, between not only Julia and her new friends, but her best friend from childhood and her brother (who also happens to be Juliet’s publisher). It’s a sweet, funny novel, and it reminds me a lot of 84, Charing Cross Road—mixed with a little bit of Barbara Pym. The characters are all wonderful—you can’t help but wishing you’d known them yourself—even Adelaide Addison. Each member of the cast of this book has his or her own unique voice. Some of the stories told in this book are tragic; some are funny; but I guarantee that all of them will be touching.

Also reviewed by: Pickle Me This, Caribousmom, BCF Book Reviews, A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Reading Matters, Literary License, Devourer of Books, A Guy's Moleskin Notebook, The Bluestocking Society, The Tome Traveller, Trish's Diary, Tiny Little Reading Room, A Life in Books, Books I Done Read, Ticket to Anywhere, An Adventure in Reading, The Literate Housewife, Book Addiction, Ramya's Bookshelf, Bookopolis, She Reads Books, Maw Books Blog, Becky's Book Reviews, Savvy Verse & Wit, A Reader's Journal, As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves, Book Nut, Once Upon a Bookshelf, Reading With Monie, She Is Too Fond of Books

11 comments:

Heather J. said...

I've been hearing a lot about this book lately. Is the premise based on fact? Did the Germans actually occupy Guernsey, and was there a society like this?

Dar said...

Thanks for the great review. I've been hearing a lot about this book lately-looks like it needs to go on the TBR shelf.

Katherine said...

I know that the book is partially based on fact--the Germans really did occupy Guernsey, and there was even a concentration camp there at some point for POWs. But I don't know if there was a literary society such as this one. I'd love to know where the authors got their inspiration from.

trish said...

I totally want to read this book, but I have to say I don't think the title is that great. If I didn't blog and walked into a bookstore never having heard about this book, I wouldn't pick it up. But I will now!

Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful review! It's on my TBR

Kerry said...

It was so wonderful, wasn't it? I'm glad you liked it too, and I enjoyed your review.

Matt said...

I enjoyed 84 Charring Cross Road. I read about this book on NPR and now that it has got a good review from you will make it a must-read for me. :)

bookchronicle said...

I think I might have to go and nab this one too. I have a vacation coming up and it sounds like an interesting book to help entertain myself with.

Danielle said...

I broke down and ordered this one, as I've heard so many good things about it. There was a BBC series (no doubt very unlike this book) that is based on the German occupation of the Channel Islands. It's an interesting aspect of history. I can't wait to read this.

Duncan said...

We live in Guernsey and have a small business making and selling postcards, calendars and souvenirs for locals and tourists coming to the island. Following the success of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book we were asked to produce a range of souvenirs for visitors who come to Guernsey because of the book. I thought that your readers might be interested in these products as gifts for friends and family who have enjoyed the book. If you would like to know more please visit our web site www.guernseypeelpiegifts.com or send me an email, I'd love to hear from you.
Best wishes

Leen said...

I'm so glad that I bought this books a few months ago!

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