The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Overview: “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.

Debbie Weiss (01/28/17): This is not a newly printed publication, but I just never got around to reading it until it became a $1.99 email special bargain of the day that ended up in my Outlook In folder. I am so glad I clicked the link! There is not much that I can add to what has already been said. I loved the book and I loved all the characters. It is written with charm and wit. It is a delightful read that will make you feel really good about life.

Gail Reid: My fellow (what is the feminine of fellow?) readers have done a fine job of describing this short but memorable novel that is told strictly through letters. The book takes place in Guernsey on the Channel Islands of the U.K. right after WWII at time when there was no internet, no e-mail, and phone service had only recently been restored. Letters were the only means to tell news and convey feelings. All the characters are well developed through their letters yet each has a unique voice. The Channel Islands had been occupied by the Nazis during the war. When a London newspaperwoman comes to Guernsey to write the story of the Nazi occupation she becomes totally involved in the people and the lives they lead.

I recommended this book to a colleague who when she finished it said "I want to know people like them". You will, too.

Janet Kolodner: This book is a gem. It is short and sweet and uplifting while it also tells the story of Guernsey Island (off of Great Britain) during WWII. As the other reviews tell you, it is written as a set of letters -- between a writer, her publisher (who is a close friend since childhood), his sister (also a close friend), the man who wants to marry the writer, and people who live in Guernsey. I've read other books that are written in letters but never one with so many people writing letters to so many others. As you might imagine, you can get to know someone through his/her letters, and that is what happened to me while reading this book -- I came to know the characters based on what they wrote to others -- the things they were interested in and the judgments they made -- and through seeing them described through the eyes of other letter writers. I also learned some history -- about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey during WWII. There are some very sad and tragic parts to the book, but it is hopeful and uplifting above all. All that being said, the author also wants you to think a bit about what the war might have been like for young Germans soldiers -- boys, really -- and to sympathize with some of them. I didn't especially want to feel that particular sympathy, but the author doesn't make you feel it; she only challenges you to feel it.

Actually, there are two authors to this book because the first author became too sick to write before doing the final edits. She had written the book as part of a creative writing club, and not only did everyone in the club cheer on her writing, but the agent and then publisher she found also loved the way she wrote. She asked her niece, the other writer in the family, to finish the book for her. The niece says that her aunt had always been a story teller, from way before she began writing, so she found it easy to carry on in her aunt's voice and make the edits required by the publisher. When I finished the book, not only did I want to keep living with the characters and know what happened to them, I was also saddened that I would not get to read any other books by the first author.

Wanda Cohen: I was aware of this book because many of you have loved it and shared your feelings by submitting reviews. It came to me as a surprise gift and I'm so glad it did. You were so right. It is wonderful. It has all the elements of a unique must read with just enough tradition to make it a classic to be enjoyed over and over again. READ IT!! You will fall in love with it too. I promise.

Dale Israel: Don't let the title of this book fool you...when I saw the name of the book I thought it might just be another lightweight little book, but actually it was much more than that. This book has been on the Best Seller's list for several weeks now and I can understand why. It takes place in 1946 as London is emerging from the shadow of WWII. Juliet Ashton is a columnist and author on the hunt for an interesting subject to write about. She discovers a group of interesting "characters" who live on the Channel island of Guernsey and make up the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society -- a a unique reading club formed on the spur-of-the-moment as an alibi to protect its members from being arrested by Germans who took over the island during the war. The reader learns about the members' lives through their letters to Juliette. In this manner, you discover what the island was like during that period of time, the people's taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation had on their lives. I enjoyed this book and found Juliette to be witty and engaging. The story kept my interest though I must admit the ending was rather abrupt which was a little disappointing. Nevertheless, I'd recommend this book. It was a good read.

Ava Shuster: I am glad I have the chance to write about this book since I have had difficutly recalling the full name when I try to tell people about it! This relatively slim book was such a pleasant surprise. The story is told exclusively through letters. It created a very interesting storytelling vehicle. I have tried to create a synopsis but after three failures to convey the charms of this book, I suggest you look it up online or open and read the inside flap on your next visit to a bookstore. It takes place right after WWII. I never knew that England's , Channel Islands were occupied by the Nazis during the war. It is the occupation and some of the residents attempts at resistance that end up creating the Literary Society. Fun book...easy reading

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