Sarah'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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Jan 29, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, wwii
Read in May, 2014 — I own a copy

I know there are/will be loads of people who dismiss this book as frivolous or far-fetched or simple or silly or what-have-you. If you're one of those people, go read Nietzsche and leave me alone. Just kidding, of course, since (like this books shows), there is a book for everyone, but not every book is for everyone. And that is fine.

But this book was most definitely for me! I loved every second of it! I was worried about the letter format being obnoxious or boring, but it was PERFECT and so readable! I absolutely could not put this book down. I finished it in one sitting and just about wanted to turn back to the front page and read it all over again. Instead, I recommended it to my dad, who also loved it (bless his heart, I knew he would, though I expect most men wouldn't - he reminds me quite a bit of Dawsey except older and not British...or Guernseian, or whatever you call Islanders).

It was light-hearted and fun and hilarious and touching and heart-breaking and uplifting. I fell in love with all the characters (except for the evil and hysterically-but-unintentionally-funny Adelaide). I loved that the book and the characters were unafraid to be goofy and silly and frivolous and cute. Something about it was so genuine.

I also loved that the book had sobering, thoughtful bits about the occupation and other events of WWII. So many books about WWII end up sounding preachy or obnoxiously condescending, but this book managed to deal with the subject in a simple, unaffected way. I feel like a lot of WWII fiction written these days shoves the "YOU SHOULD BE DEVASTATED AND FEEL GUILTY" message in your face and come off as heavy-handed, but this book made me love these characters so much that I didn't need to be told to be devastated or to grieve for them - it just came naturally to feel compassion for these people and their lives and struggles. This book was fun and funny and goofy, but there was real substance there too.

Yes, the characters all had similar voices, and yes, there were probably some historical inaccuracies in the way they wrote. This book was good enough that I didn't care. It was good enough that I was willing to forgive the mistakes. And yes, it could be sentimental and cheesy...well, maybe it's just me, but sometimes life is sentimental and cheesy. And that's not such a bad thing.

By the last chapters, I felt like I was reading the letters of good friends. I didn't want it to end, but I couldn't help but grin for a full day after I finished it. I wanted to crawl inside the pages, inside the story, and just live there. I'm smiling right now just thinking about it. :)
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