Barbara'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 22, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: holocaust-ww-2
Recommended to Barbara by: Elizabeth, Susan & Rose
Recommended for: Maria
Read in September, 2009

Initially I hesitated whether to read this book. Everyone knows that you should not judge a book by its cover, but that warning should also include "or its title". As I started this work, I viewed the format, correspondence, with suspicion. It did not take much time for me to become spellbound by the unwinding story contained in these wonderful letters!

Rather than dwell on recounting this story, it would be important to state that the authors have adeptly and lovingly developed their characters. Their images of the lovely island, the plants, the ocean and the sky became vivid with their descriptions. One could feel the privation and suffering that the island residents felt at the hands of the Nazis.

As I considered this story, much seemed familiar to me. In part, it was because I was acquainted with Guernsey's wartime history. I then recalled watching a DVD from my library of a Masterpiece Theatre 2005 presentation of "Island at War". This fine serial captured much of what Shaffer and Barrows have included in their book, some exceptionally similar. Certainly this could be due to its historical content, but some of the characters bear a resemblance. It would be of interest to see if others have compared these factors in the same way.

I have discovered that Mary Ann Shaffer has died this past year. She had become suddenly so ill that her niece, Annie Barrows, also a writer, stepped in to complete her work. Unfortunately, this is Shaffer's only published work, but it is a true tribute to her talent that she was able to produce such a delightful/sad narrative.

It would have been helpful to have half stars for ratings! I'm still wavering about whether to give it 5 stars.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria Phenomenal review, Barbara. Thank you, as I definitely plan to read this now. Susan also said she adored it and that I would, too.

Laurel Hicks It's in my TBR pile.

Rose I have read this! I loved the letter format, although it took some getting used to, it felt like I was reading something so very personal like a diary.

Your review was brilliant!

Barbara Thanks, Friends! It has been so good sharing with everybody. I really loved and felt I knew the characters!

Susan What a wonderful, insightful review you wrote here, Barbara. I love that you added info from your viewing of the Masterpiece Theatre DVD.

Barbara Thanks, Susan. Even though the stories really do differ a bit, they both give a clear and troubling picture of how these people suffered and somehow managed during this period.

Barbara I wanted to share some interesting info with my GR friends who have read this book. Today I was with a friend who has been to Guernsey and has family there! He said that this book was quite accurate and the people were terribly treated by the Nazis. The interesting fact- most of the people spoke an ancestral type of French until WW II. When the children returned from Britain after the war, they only spoke English and it became more widespread. Efforts had been made early in the 20th century to have English as a national language, but it was slow to catch on. Today about 2% of the population there still speak this patois.

Rose Thanks for sharing that, Barbara.

message 9: by K.D. (new) - added it

K.D. Absolutely I bought a copy of this book yesterday because of this review, B. With the many books we have agreed in terms of number of stars, I obviously trust your taste on books. Great review my friend!

Chrissie I too was sceptical, but ended up loving it. It is funny about covers, they shouldn't mean anything but still they do affect us!

Barbara Thanks, KD and Chrissie! Here's another reappearance! Mystifying!

message 12: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Barbara wrote: "Thanks, KD and Chrissie! Here's another reappearance! Mystifying!"

Not this time, B. I noticed the other day that K.D. added this book to his 'to-read' list. He must've read your review then and pressed that he liked it, which put it out there for all his friends to see. :)

Barbara I keep learning new things! Thanks!!

message 14: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I loved that Masterpiece production. Nice review Barbara.

Barbara Thanks, C.
It is interesting to read about Guernsey and its history.

message 16: by Mag (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mag I was also suspicious when a friend of mine gave it to me to read, but ended up liking it very much. I gave it 4.5 :)

Barbara Agreed!

message 18: by K.D. (new) - added it

K.D. Absolutely I was actually seeing this in the New York Times Bestsellers list around 2 years ago. Then after 6 months I started seeing copies here in Manila. I resisted the temptation to buy. Viola, just last week after seeing your review, I saw a hardbound copy in our bookstore for P99 ($2). Prior to your review I read reviews giving this 2 or 3 stars. I think that was part of my decision not to buy this book at regular price.

message 19: by Chrissie (last edited Jan 29, 2011 09:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chrissie KD, Excuse me for posing a side question! I see that you are in Manila, Philippines. I have been considering reading Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). I am sure you know of this book since José Rizal is a national figure in that his death played a role in sparking the revolt for independence of the Philippines, although he himself was against all violence. He was jailed for the for the opinions expressed criticizing the church and the colonial powers. This is what I have heard. Have you read this book? I know it is an important book, but how would you grade it on readability and enjoyment. An important book need not be a struggle to get through! Do you think it is well written?

Thank you for your help.

Chrissie OH, and K.D., living where you do, you might also be interested in Revolt in Paradise which I just finished and reviewed here at GR:

It must be read with a discerning eye, but it is fun and informative, about Indonesian independence.

message 21: by K.D. (new) - added it

K.D. Absolutely Chrissie, "Noli Me Tangere" is a required reading in junior high school. So, I read it for 1 full year! It is still one of the best novels our third-world country has churned out so far.

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll watch out for it. When it comes to Indonesian (our neighboring country) novels, I have in my tbr their Sukarno book called: The Year of Living Dangerously.

Chrissie K.D. Revolt in Paradise is NOT a new book.

I must ask, is Touch me Not a book YOU liked or a book you learned to like b/c you spent a year studying it? I am sure you know what I mean. There is a difference. I am looking for a book that teaches and that is just plain enjoyable to read. What is enjoyable to read is so hard to define..... So all I can ask is, did YOU enjoy it? Would you have enjoyed it even if it had not been taught for an entire year?!

message 23: by Maria (new)

Maria May I borrow your copy, Susan? Guernsey Lit, I mean.

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