Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This book (with the very long title) by aunt/niece team Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has been getting rave reviews throughout the book blogging community—and this is one bandwagon I'm jumping on. And don't let the title throw you; it sounds like one of those silly fluff books, but it really isn't.

The book is written as a series of letters, which was exactly the right choice to unfold this wonderful story of a writer searching for a subject, a war-ravaged island, and its inhabitants. It's London in 1946, just after World War II, and author Juliet Ashton begins corresponding with the residents of Guernsey. She is amazed to discover that the islanders spent the war under German occupation and had no contact with the outside world. During this time the Guernsey Literary Society was accidentally formed, and Juliet seeks out their stories through a series of letters. Eventually she visits the island, and the story continues there.

While it is true that much of the novel is predictable and wraps up so very nicely, I really didn't care. The writing is wonderful, the characters rich and distinctive, and Juliet's voice is fabulous. I knew absolutely nothing about the German occupation of Guernsey during WWII; in fact, I knew nothing about Guernsey at all prior to reading this book. I think an excellent sign of historical fiction, however light it is (and this book does have some tragic moments), is that it makes the reader want to explore the topic at a deeper level. And, of course, I think all readers want to travel to Guernsey upon finishing the book!

After having two book flops to start off the year, I was thrilled to find this book at our library. While it is early in the year, I imagine that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will end up on my Top 10 list for 2009.


Marbel said...

I am anxiously awaiting this book from the library. There is a very long queue for it...

Marg said...

This book was on my list for 2008. I loved it!

Anna said...

I've heard nothing but good things about this book. It's in my TBR pile, and I plan to read it for the WWII reading challenge at War Through the Generations.

Would it be okay if I linked to your review on the book reviews page on the challenge site?

Diary of an Eccentric

Carrie K. said...

I adored this one, too - and have been passing my copy around to my mom and friends.

Anna said...

Thanks! I linked to it here.

Diary of an Eccentric

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I'm jumping on the bandwagon with this one too! It's in the house and I'm hoping to get it read this next month!