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Monday 18 October 2010

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaeffer & Annie Barrows

I had this book in my 'To Be Read' pile for months, probably even a year, and wasn’t sure if I was that interested in reading it despite the good reviews. However, my aunt asked me what I thought of it and couldn’t believe it when I told her I hadn’t read further than the first line or two. Knowing she’d be asking me again, I thought I’d take another look and now I’m a convert.

The book is set in 1946. Juliet Ashton, an author, is bored with the book she’s supposed to be writing and needs to find inspiration. Dawsley Adams, a farmer from Guernsey, nervously writes to Juliet telling her he has a book that once belonged to her and asking for her help in locating the address of a London bookshop. They begin writing to each other and Dawsley tells Juliet all about being a member of the 'Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' and how the mysterious club came into being during the years that Guernsey was occupied by the Germans.

More members of the Society, as well as other locals with a grudge towards them, write to Juliet, filling her in on the background of their society and the tragic events that they endured during the war years. Juliet gets to know these extraordinary characters through their letters and discovers that the inhabitants of this small island, so close to France, are far more intriguing than she could have ever imagined.

I loved this book. As you read the letters, you feel as if you’re watching a particularly good wartime film. It’s beautifully written and the only negative about this book is the fact that the author, Mary Ann Shaeffer died just before it was published and so it’s one of a kind. I’ll be keeping my copy as I know it’s a book I’ll be returning to time and again.

Reviewed by Debs Carr


Jenny Beattie said...

I failed to engage with this when I tried to read it too. I shall try again. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Read this last year after my Mum gave me a copy and found it an easy, beguiling, funny and quirky tale. I'd recommend it!

Queenie said...

This has been on my want-to-read list for ages. After reading your review, I shall redouble my efforts.

Lane Mathias said...

I had it sitting on a pile for ages too.
When I finally got around to reading it, I really enjoyed it.
I thought the different voices through the use of letters was very clever.

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

I'm definitely putting this on my Christmas wish list.