by Mary Ann Shaffer
Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Found: The Library
Rating: 4 Voodoos
It’s January, 1946, and writer Julie Ashton sits at her desk, vainly seeking a subject for her next book.
Out of the blue, she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a second-hand book that once belonged to Juliet – and, spurred on by their mutual love of Charles Lamb, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Juliet’s curiosity is piqued, and it’s not long before she beings to hear from the other members. As the letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realises that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name. There’s gawky Isola, who makes love potions to sell along with her vegetables; Eben, a fisherman with a passion for Shakespeare; Will, erstwhile ironmonger and the creator of the famous potato peel pie; and Dawsey himself, a farmer with a shy manner and a tender heart.
Most poignant of all are the memories of Elizabeth, the founding member of the society, who fell in love with a German officer, saved a starving prisoner, and was sent away to a concentration camp, leaving her child behind.
Sustained by books and one another, the islanders have battled the bitter hardships of World War II. Juliet, entranced by their stories and their spirit, decides to visit Guernsey to meet her new friends properly.
A moving tale of the power of friendship, books and love, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will beguile the heart and mind.
What a wonderfully heart-warming story about friendship and books (even if the title is a bit of a mouthful!).
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came to my attention many years ago, (I think it’s been on my goodreads TBR list since 2012 – Oh dear), but it was only when I heard that it was being made into a film that I finally decided to pick it up and give it a go, and oh, how glad I am that I did.
The whole book is written as a collection of letters between the main character Juliet, her friends, and a group of people who live on Guernsey Island. Juliet is intrigued by these people and how they had to live during the World War 2 Occupation. She begins asking them questions in the hopes of writing an article for The Times, however, she soon realises that there is more to be written that just an article and so embarks on a trip to Guernsey with the aim of writing a book. What she finds though is friendship, love and a life she never even dreamed of.
I found this story so easy to read, even though it was a collection of letters. Other reviewers have said that the writing was too similar in the different letters and while I agree, I didn’t find that it bothered me as much as I would have thought. I enjoyed the style and the tone and found myself thinking about the book between sittings. For me, this is a sign of a good book. That and the fact that I kept laughing out loud and reading bits out to the Husband, (something I hardly do as it irritates him).
I loved the characters, especially some of the not so nice ones. Adelaide Addison for example. As a country girl myself, I know many woman like this, nosey busy bodies who see it as their duty to inform you of whatever it is you or somebody else has done wrong, but I also know many of the kind, caring and hardworking types too, like Eben and Dawsey. I especially know a few Isola Pribby’s! Reading this book was like reading about home and it made me smile.
All in all a very enjoyable read. It’s a shame Mary Ann Shaffer hasn’t written anything else because I’d quite like to read more by her. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to watch the film next. Fingers crossed it measures up to the book, I do love Lily James though.