Becky's Reviews > The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
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's review
May 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, ww2, 2012, bad-shit-and-atrocities, ebook_nook, reviewed, romance-y, tear-jerkers
Recommended to Becky by: Felina
Read from May 10 to 12, 2012

When I started this book, honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I know that lots of people have loved Guernsey, and a friend of mine raved about it, but I was dubious. I mean... the title just seemed silly to me. But now having read the book, the title makes perfect sense. Not only what it means, but also everything that it represents, and I can't really imagine the book having a different title now.

In addition to being dubious about the title, I've also been really impatient with books lately. They have to get to the good stuff quickly, or I find something shinier. Guernsey took a bit of getting used to - the format, being epistolary didn't help that much. The first letter, from someone named Juliet to someone named Sidney about someone named Susan Scott and something called English Foibles and the 'Society to Protest Against the Glorification of the English Bunny'.

Right then. I read a couple more letters, and thought, "Maybe later," and tried a couple other books. (Nook ownership encourages book polygamy, I swear it.) But I kept thinking about the letters, and who the people writing them were, and so I came back, and as soon as Dawsey wrote his first letter, I was hooked. I still think that the beginning is a little slow, but it did the job.

Overall, I thought that the epistolary style was great. It allows the characters to be themselves, for the reader to get to know them through their own thoughts, rather than an intermediary (a narrator) telling us about them. At times I thought that things were a little one sided, the letters providing responses to things that the reader wasn't privy to, so the reader would need to fill in the blanks, but I didn't mind this so much overall. It's better to pick a style and commit to it, in my opinion, than to try to be all things to all readers.

Another benefit of this style is that it's far more personal - written by a real person to be read by another real person. They aren't literature, they are bits of someone's life and thoughts and experiences. And that's exactly what they felt like.

I loved how they kind of skittered around the Occupation, while still showing exactly what it had been like. These people weren't whiners. They took the Occupation as another bump in the road and lived their lives around it. Their letters are full of the ways that their lives changed with the coming of the Nazis to Guernsey, but they were just telling someone who hadn't been there what it was like, not fishing for sympathy. That's a fine line, but I think this book walked it, and did it beautifully.

All that being said, I can't give this book 5 stars, although I wish I could. I didn't feel that the book was finished when it ended, and I feel a little bad for saying this, but that the book lost a bit of focus toward the end. Granted, the reader can fill in the blanks, but I was truly hoping for a more decisive non-romantic resolution. It's all well and good for the romance to have been wrapped up - but for me that was a side detail. That's not why I felt that we were in Guernsey. I wanted to see publication of the work-in-progress. I wanted to see the GL&PPPS read it, and commiserate over it, and begin to heal the griefs of their losses through it. Especially this last for Kit.

As it was, it was a beautiful book. Very quotable and moving and definitely worth reading. But I feel like the end could have come full circle and been much stronger.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Laura awesome, awesome book! let me know what you think.

Laura Oh I hope you like it!

Laura Becky did you know the author died while writing and her niece finished it? I'm assuming you knew that since there were 2 authors lol. I'll shut up now.

Becky I didn't know that until after I finished the book and read some other reviews. I'd just thought it was a co-author situation, like Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett writing Good Omens, or Stephen King and Peter Straub writing The Talisman.

Becky It does make sense that the change in focus would come from someone else finishing the book... though it doesn't change my opinion or review at all.

Laura Sure, I just thought it might bring some clarity. Glad you enjoyed it!

message 7: by Carol. (new)

Carol. Wish I could include an extra 'like' for the phrase "book polygamy." :)

message 8: by Bondama (new)

Bondama Becky - I have an extremely close friend who lives with her husband off the coast of England on an island, but it's not a channel (chunnel) island, it's off Dorset, right at the southernmost end of the country proper. It's called Portland, and it has some of the most unique geological features I've ever, ever noticed. If you get a chance, check the 2 or 3 videos she's posted about the island. One's called "Durdle Door", after my favorite place, next to Stonehenge, on the planet (They both lie right at the intersection of two ley lines.)she calls herself "Mrs. Maloney or Mahoney, I forget which --- but the music she's paired with these videos is gorgeous - Enya, I think.

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