Monday, October 10, 2011

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

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Publisher: The Dial Press
Published: November 2007
Hardcover: 274 pages
Source: borrowed from library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from “ 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.

My Thoughts: After reading so many rave reviews of this book on various blogs, I decided that it was time I read it, too. After all, I love WWII fiction, so this was something that would be right up my alley. And let me just say, I LOVED it!!! This was such a great book. Short, sweet, insightful, well-written ... there were just so many good things going on in this book! The book's format is letters (and some telegrams) between Juliet Ashton, her editor, her best friend, her boyfriend, and the various inhabitants of Guernsey. The letters bring each character to life since you are reading their point of view on different things. I love books with multiple narrators but had never read one in this format of letters. It made for a quick read and a great way to learn about all the characters.

I had no idea about Guernsey's role in the war. I knew they were one of the channel islands, but that was about it. I had no idea about their German occupation. The inhabitants of Guernsey tell of their experience during the war, and it was heartbreaking at times, frustrating at others, and depressing at other times. It was eye opening and I feel bad that I didn't know anything about this island and their involvement during WWII.

Now, the characters. There is a slew of people in this book and it would be easy to get them all confused, but the authors do a great job of making everyone their own person. Even without seeing who wrote the letter, each person has a distinct voice. It's a short book but each character is fully developed and well-written. This was a great little book, one that I was sad to see end. If you haven't read this book, then go out and read it! It's a quick read, something that you will find hard to put down.


  1. The title of this book turned me off for so long but I'm glad I finally got to it. It was delightful.

    I enjoy books told in multiple voices also.

  2. I really enjoyed this one as well. I heard that it is even better on audio.