Laura'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
Sep 25, 08

bookshelves: best-seller, light-and-fun, war
Recommended to Laura by: Jeslyn Rumbold
Read in September, 2008

A friend gave this to me with the recommendation, “You’ll LOVE this – it sounds like you!” I assume she meant because the main character is a witty book lover, not because she’s a critical spinster. I don’t dare ask.

At any rate, this is easily one of the most charming books I’ve read in a while. Our heroine, Juliet, spent the war writing light pieces for a women’s magazine, and now she yearns for more substantial material. When she receives a letter from a Guernsey man who has in his possession a book she used to own, and finds out that during the war he belonged to a “Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” she’s intrigued. She writes him back. It turns out that at the beginning of the occupation (Germany occupied the Channel Islands from 1939-1945), a group of friends had gathered for a covert pork supper, only to have to make up some excuse for breaking curfew when a Nazi officer discovered them walking home late at night. The Literary Society was the result.

Juliet begins corresponding with the various members of the society, but eventually decides she wants to go to Guernsey to meet them in person — as will you!! What a delightful assortment of characters — most of their letters made me laugh out loud, and several made me cry. Juliet’s letters are an absolute scream. Plus, as a bonus, you get an intriguing glimpse into what life was like for those trapped on an occupied island for the duration of the war. The hardships, friendships, and everyday heroism of the characters actually warmed my heart!

My only complaint is that it wasn’t until page 61 that the author managed to write in a different voice. In other words, most of the characters sound exactly alike, as though the same person is corresponding with herself. Creating distinct voices is a trick for any author, but good ones do it far more successfully. And there’s one woman, a non-member of the Literary Society, who’s so absurdly interfering that she makes Mrs. Kravitz of “Bewitched” look like an Arthur Miller creation. But the rest of the book (ridiculous sitcom character aside) is delightful enough to make up for the contrived and often predictable aspects. A quick read that will leave you smiling...and wanting to go to Guernsey!
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