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