After a short break studying hard for an exam, I’m back with a new review. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer is a book I’ve been hearing many good things about, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Synopsis quoted from Random House¹:
“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.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in London and on Guernsey after World War II. Shaffer and Barrows are able to make you envision the spectacular scenery on Guernsey. Their descriptions of the wind and the sea made me instantly want to go on holiday there.
The novel’s main character is the writer Juliet Ashton, a young woman at the ideal age to settle down and get married. She can’t, however, make up her mind yet. What’s more, she isn’t the devoted wife type who stays at home and cooks and cleans. Juliet has a mind of her own and loves her work. The people living on Guernsey are a lovely mix of different characters. I particularly like Isola, a very kind woman with many future passions lying dormant within her.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel that reads very fluidly, so please don’t be put off by this unusual writing style. I did need some time to get used to it, but that might also have been due to my massive book hangover after reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. While The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’s synopsis suggests a light read, the book has its serious sides concerning the German occupation of Guernsey. What I really like is that the writing is not judging but well-balanced. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will please history aficionados as well as those looking for a down-to-earth love story.