Wendy'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
Jun 27, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobooks, world-war-ii, historical-fiction

I read this one when I was deployed. I brought a backpack full of heavy literature to the desert, thinking (stupidly) that I was going to get all kinds of crazy reading done. Umm...Wrong!! I don't know what possessed me, thinking I'd ever be in the mood for the likes of Battle Royale or Anna Karenina, or even the Book Thief when my job consisted basically of helping people not get killed in a war zone. Dark stuff. I found out soon enough that I could only tolerate *nice* books. It was weird, like I'd had a personality alteration--dark, complex books and war novels are usually my thing. I did read and enjoy a lot of Terry Pratchett.I even read a Janet Evanovich novel and half of a Daniel Steele novel on my day off, because that's what people tend to donate to libraries that "support our troops." I also became addicted to audio-books because I didn't have much free time to sit and read, but I could pop on audio as I ran, or lifted weights, or folded my laundry, though they were a pain to download on the crappy internet.

And then I got this one. My five star review is likely an emotional one. When you deploy, you tend to get something we called "deployment brain" and suddenly the most insipid movies and unfunny TV shows you'd never tolerate in real life seem great, as long as they're brainless. This book was not one of those, and I really got into the story more than I had any book for a long time, so that I was actually looking forward to getting up at 0430 so I could listen as I ran (ok, maybe that part was a stretch). It was also very soothing to listen to (I think the epistolary format worked wonderfully on audio) as I ran around the base just as the sun came up over the desert horizon. Narrator Juliet Mills has an absolutely delightful voice, Paul Boehmer likewise, and I was transported to a different time and place. I also liked that it explored the German Occupation of Guernsey, an aspect of WWII that until this book hadn't really ever gone mainstream (though now books/shows about it seem to be everywhere). Thinking back on it now, the story (love letters, coincidences, war orphans) sounds like something I'd turn a cynical eye to...but I didn't then. It's not a happy book, but still a hopeful one. This was the only 5 star rating I gave that year. So either that says a lot for the book, or for the power of Deployment Brain. You decide.

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