Saturday, July 5, 2008

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

I just want to start out by saying that this book is going right to the top of my Favorite-Books-Of-All-Time list, I loved it!

It is 1946 London. The war is finally over and Juliet Ashton is in the midst of her first book tour. She is a journalist and during the war she wrote a cheery newspaper column under the pen name Izzy Bickerstaff. Those columns have been collected into a book and, though it's selling well, Juliet more than ready to say goodbye to Izzy and start on a new writing project.

While she is casting about for ideas she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer on Guernsey Island in the English Channel. He has found her name and address written in a secondhand book that he owns and asks for her help. Since Guernsey was occupied by the Nazis during the war, they have no bookseller in residence and he is unable to expand his reading. Would she have the name and address of a London bookseller who might be able to help?

The resulting letters they exchange introduce her to other residents of Guernsey, mostly friends of Mr. Adams and fellow members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. One of the residents made up the Society on the spur of the moment one night when several of them were caught out by Nazi soldiers after curfew. And what a blessing it turned out to be, giving them something to think about and reasons to go on during the worst of the deprivation and starvation that the five years of occupation brought.

Eventually Juliet decides on the theme for her next book and goes to Guernsey to start writing and meet her new friends. What she finds when she gets there surprises her and changes her life.

I loved everything about this book. The post WWII England setting, the epistolary form, the realistic characters, the fact that much of it is about books, reading and love of literature. But most of all I loved the writer's wit and style that had me laughing out loud in places and broke my heart and brought me to tears in others. I read it very quickly and I kept telling myself to slow down because at the rate I was going it would be over far too soon. But I couldn't. So I'll just have to read it again and again, like going back to an old friend.

It is a shame that there won't be any more books by Mary Ann Shaffer, but what a gift she has given us. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be published on August 5, 2008 by The Dial Press.

Order The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society from Amazon

9 comments:

sheistoofondofbooks said...

I requested this from LT ER, but didn't win it. Thanks for a great review recommending it ... and another book is added to my wish list!

Kathleen said...

I too was hoping to get this from LTER. Glad to hear it was so good! I'll add it to my TBR list.

Lenore said...

Wishlisted!

tracy said...

Definite addition for my TBR pile when it comes out:)

wordlily said...

I loved this book too! It sent me hunting for all the epistolary novels I can get my hands on.

Becca said...

I read 84 Charing Cross Road and saw everywhere that if I liked it I would also like this one. So I had to try it. And I agree with you. It is wonderful but it does go by too quickly and is over too soon.

tashiana said...

this book does look pretty good
i usually like books that connect to the world wars like i said before

Jemima said...

This sounds like a great read. I loved 84 Charing Cross Rd so I know I will love this. Books that reflect on the power of literature really appeal to me. I recently read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and it also had some interesting thoughts about books and reading. Thanks for the review. It seems like it must be a powerful story!

Anna said...

I loved this one, too. I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.