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

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

Published by Bloomsbury Pages: 248

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 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.

I hardly ever read books about the world wars. Even movies about that subject I’ll skip. But I don’t mind if the story is set in that time, when its actually about something else. Pearl Harbor is actually a romance story that just happens to be set in WW II. The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society is another example that talks about a war, but only as a circumstance. It’s not the core of the story.

That’s the reason why I chose to read it despite being set in that time. What I didn’t know before I started reading was that it is an epistolary novel. I’ve only read a handful of them and I liked as many as I didn’t like. I had trouble getting into the story because the letters felt fragmented, but after a dozen, my mind was used to it and I was able to form the story in my head. The characters became familiar, as was the setting.

This is the kind of book that sucks you in slowly, but once you’re in, you’re never want to get out. Each character has a distinct voice in their letters and it feels as if you’re getting to know them personally. It makes the long distance friendship between Juliet and the Guernsey literary society real. Shaffer and Barrows have done an excellent job in creating a human story. The connection between the characters and the reader makes this book so great. It’s beautifully crafted and unlike anything I’ve read so far.

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society has earned five stars. It made me laugh, cry, and surprised me in unexpected ways. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do, but it’s always the unexpected stories that never leave you. The story is sweet and heart breaking, and I can’t wait to see the movie.

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