Saturday, April 14, 2012

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

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.


Where to begin reviewing such an incredible book? I love everything about this story: the characters, the time period, the writing style, and the island of Guernsey. This story is based on actual event in history with the Germans occupying the island of Guernsey during WWII. I had never even heard of this island, and it was fascinating to read of actual events that occurred there. But more than that, as a reader, you are transported back to a time where people actually made more time for each other and had the time to write more than a one line text. I loved watching the story unfold as Juliet makes new friends on the island and keeps up with the demands of her publisher, all through beautifully written letters. I laughed at Juliet's sense of humor, and appreciated her love of reading and writing. Here are a few great quotes about books and reading from Juliet's letters:

"I love seeing the bookshops and meeting the booksellers-- booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one-- the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it-- along with first dibs on the new books.” 

“I am to cover the philosophical side of the debate and so far my only thought is that reading keeps you from going gaga.” 

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

 “ 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.” 

This a a treasure of a book, one that I love picking up again and again!

Rating: 5
Published 7.2008

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