Kelly'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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Dec 24, 08

bookshelves: read-in-2008

** spoiler alert ** This book garners a 1.5 from me. What a painful read.

I won't dwell too long on what makes this book so wrong, but let's start with the problem of how difficult it is for a GOOD writer to develop character via the epistolary form. Now for two mediocre writers, it's even worse. I distinguish no voices among the twelve million uninteresting characters. Second, how about the "plot?" There isn't one, and what is moderately plot-like is so loosely strung that it's impossible and laughable. The woman's boss lets her skip town, not do her work, and then she decides she wants to adopt some kid she's known for a couple of months and then marries one of her subjects? That's unethical and gets people fired in the real world. Granted, it's the 1940s, but, I think that actually makes it less believable. The setting and timing of this story never come together, and descriptions of war are thrown in on the side for added drama.

I should have stayed away when I saw the rave, run-on sentence of a review from Elizabeth Gilbert ( Eat, Pray, Love fame) giving this one glowing reviews. The book is not worth your time or frustration, as you can never really care about the characters or their half-slopped-together miss-mash of a story. Additionally, the language leaves something to be desired when it could have been so much more. The book HAS such potential but never gets anywhere near it. Feckless, really (feckless being the word I kept reading overandoverandover when it wasn't necessary).
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Reading Progress

12/23/2008 "Decent, though I'm also bias by Elizabeth Gilbert's rave, incoherent, run-on back cover review."
12/23/2008 page 200
72.99% "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....."

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Janssen Well, makes me glad I took it back to the library unread!


Kelly Janssen wrote: "Well, makes me glad I took it back to the library unread!"

I should have been more wary, but the premise sounded good. I think a good, well-established and experienced writer could take the bones and make it good. You're not missing much. Time for better things, right?


Jessica Your review of Guernsey is SPOT ON! I could not even care about the characters. I was confused by all the characters and couldn't get myself to pay enough attention to keep them all straight. Thanks for a great review!!


Bridget Maybe on another day you'd feel differently. I've started books, put them down, picked them up later, and loved them. I can see how the revolving cast of characters would confuse. Susan and Sophie just about did me in, but once I got past that and got sucked into the plot, I couldn't put this book down.


Diane Your review is right on the money. This is a poorly done book on so many levels.


message 6: by Robyn (last edited Sep 20, 2012 01:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robyn Markow Yes,I thought this book was a bit twee(Brit Slang for Cutesy) in spots. & Elizabeth was a bit too Unrealistically heroic for me @ times & i did get confused at the beginning w/whom was who due to letter format used. However,the story won me over. Sometimes I just want to read a book that's uplifting & it highlighted an event of WW2 that history books have seemed to ignore. Sorry to read about the main author's demise.


Mary Brinkley What on earth are you talking about, Juliet marries one of her "subjects," which would probably get her fired? She's not an anthropologist or a college professor. She's an author who can date/marry who she pleases. Dawsey isn't her subject. He's a man she befriended via mail. Her boss didn't "let" her "skip town and not do her work." Again: she's an author. She wanted to write a book about Guernsey and went to research it, which is a completely typical among authors. Most authors don't work at a 9-5, M-F job where they are expected to sit at a desk and crank out a specific amount of tangible work every day. They have some freedom to come and go and work at their own pace. Sidney is her publisher, not her boss. He doesn't get to dictate when, where, and how she works, only whether or not he, personally, will publish her work.


Suellen Pellat Mary wrote what I was about to write you. Dawsey was not her subject, Elizabeth and Guernsey were. Juliet keeps on writing Sydney about her writing and how it is going. So she is working when she is there. And yet she is also falling for Kit and Dawsey while working. Doesn't it happen to us all to have a professional activity and go on with our lives?


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