Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By Mary Ann Shafer

“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.
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.

My sister told me to read this about 3 years ago, and I just now got around to it. Better late than never eh? I was reluctant to read yet another World War II book, and didn’t want the depressingness of it in my life. There’s only so much a soul can take of that level of depravity. But oh, how I loved this book! Written in a series of letters between Juliet (our heroine) and the citizens of the island of Guernsey in England, it was charming. Completely and deliciously charming. Heartwarming. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, and filled with hope and sunlight. It’s not all roses, but the hope that is displayed through these courageous islanders during the occupation of German soldiers on their island through all the horrors that wartime brings was inspiring. I fell in love along with Juliet for the island of Guernsey and it’s book-loving people. I was smiling through most of the book, and the heaviness of war is lightened by the strength of the human spirit. I understand now why this book is so heavily read by book clubs and loved so much. I almost immediately started recommending it to people. I do have a brief warning though: it does contain language (no “f” words) and it also mentions a character being Gay. Those are my main content warnings.

I give it a 4.25 out of 5

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