The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
During World War II the Channel Islands between England and France were occupied by the Germans. They are English territory that the Germans were sure would lead them on to London. The islands were cut off from all outside contact except from the Germans.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society starts after the war is over in 1946. Juliet Ashton wrote a humorous column during the war in the London papers that helped people get through. Now she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man who lives on the island of Guernsey. He had a book that once belonged to her and he wanted to know if she could help him find more books by or about the author. He mentioned the reading society they had formed on the island during the occupation. Juliet is intrigued with the few things he said and asks more questions.
When she is asked to write a special column for the London Times, Juliet wants to feature the group in her article. Soon Juliet has letters going back and forth with a number of Guernsey residents who belong to the reading group. She slowly learns what it was like on the island during the occupation, both the bad and the bits of good.
What a great novel this is! First, as a geographically challenged American, this is the first time I've learned that Guernsey is an island in the channel instead of a region of the main portion of England (like Yorkshire, Bath, etc.). Nor did I know those English islands had been occupied during the war. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a novel that tells those islanders' tales of real events.
Mary Ann Shaffer and, later, Annie Barrows have told a charming tale of horrors. Because it is related matter-of-factly in letters, the horror impact is very subtle. The full picture comes together gradually for the reader until he/she understands what it was like and how these people stood up throughout.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society also includes the personal aspect of the characters in 1946. Juliet corresponds with her best friends as well as the people on Guernsey. The book is told in letter format (and feels a lot like 84 Charing Cross) and all of them are to or from Juliet except one small section near the end. That means the story of what happened during the occupation is not told chronologically but loops back and forth in time for those years. I found that easy to follow but not everyone likes that story telling method.
Shaffer and Barrows use this novel to teach and entertain. They succeed well in both arenas. This was recommended to me by two friends whose opinion I respect. Tomorrow I'm passing this copy on to another friend who heard our book discussion. Hopefully she'll pass it on with glowing recommendations to yet someone else.
|You might also like:
84 Charring Cross by Helene Hanff
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
Book Rating System