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Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true” – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Borrows

Initial Thoughts: I had found The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by chance while I was browsing through Walmart.  It was the title – the super long and strange title – that drew me in. As I found out later while reading, I wasn’t the only one who was curious about what a potato peel pie was made of. I’ll give you a hint… potatoes.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Summary

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. ” – Goodreads

The Review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society was an absolute delight to read. My only regret, why didn’t I come across this book sooner!

It’s January 1946, and the war is finally over. Now, London is slowly beginning to rebuild itself. In the mix of everything is writer Juliet Ashton, whose book Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War, is the best work she has ever written (to her great dismay). While trying to find a new subject to write on, Juliet receives a letter from the island of Guernsey. The letter is from a man named Dawsey Adams who bought Juliet’s previously owned copy of the poetry of Charles Lamb. In his letter, he reveals that he and his friends created a literary society by accident during the German occupation called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Enraptured by this letter, Juliet begins a correspondence with Dawsey and the members of the society. As Juliet learns more and more about the German occupation of Guernsey, Juliet rediscovers her passion for books and for telling stories.

I love epistolary novels (novels told through letters). When they’re done right, you can see the voice behind the letter writer. This novel captures each unique voice and inserts it into each of the letters. I enjoyed having to reconstruct a plotline from reading the letters. Most of the events of the novel have already taken place, and the reader must trace the events of World War II in Guernsey as Juliet does, piece by piece.

When I initially bought this book, I did not even look at the summary. Yes, I bought it for the title and the cover art. I thought for sure that it would be a romance novel. I was surprised how the romance component of the novel does not play a huge role. Part of me was glad for it. It would have drowned out the other characters’ quirks and voices. While this is not a critique of the movie adaptation (Yes! there’s a movie adaptation on Netflix!!), I did find that because there was more emphasis on romance, many of the secondary characters were removed from the movie altogether, which is a shame.

There are many novels out there that focus on World War II. Why should you read this novel in particular? I found that it gave a new perspective on the war, one that I have never heard about or read about. Also, whenever the members of the society would mention a book that I have already read, I would find myself so enthused by their perspective, especially Isola’s ideas about Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

I would recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to anyone who loves to read and wished they could join a book club with quirky enthusiastic readers.

Final Rating: 

A- Cat

About the Book 

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Borrows 
Year Published: 2008
Pages: 276
Received: Purchased
Recommended: Yes!
Genres & Subjects: Fiction, Historical fiction, Romance, Epistolary, World War II

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Until Next Time, 

-Alice

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