Book Review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

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.

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.

Sarah’s Review:

I LOVED this book. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Guernsey) was as heartwarming as the perfect cup of Lady Gray tea with a splash of lemon on a crisp fall morning. There are so many wonderful things about this book that I’m not quite sure where to start.

Guernsey is told in the epistolary format (a fancy word meaning it is told through letters). Since it is told through letters, I felt as though we got a real sense of the tone and cadence of all of our characters. Our main heroine, writer Juliet Ashton, is a pure delight! In fact, I am convinced that she would have been best friends with Emmeline Lake from Dear Mrs. Bird, had they ever had the pleasure of meeting. Juliet Ashton is a strong woman who knows exactly what she wants from life and will not tolerate anything less (a woman after my own heart).

What I found to be most powerful about Guernsey wasn’t necessarily Juliet’s strength, but her reaction to the strength of the characters from Guernsey. Through Juliet, we get to bear witness to the resilience of the human spirit, the power of love, and the ability of humans to find hope in the darkest of times. As readers, we get to watch Juliet fall in love with each and every member of the literary society, and as a result, we the readers will fall in love with them too.

On top of all of that, Guernsey is a book about book lovers; it is a book about the power books have to bind us to one another and to transform our lives. Read it and weep, in the best possible way.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Jenny O’s Review:

I loved this book. The story is told through a series of letters and telegraphs between a writer in London and the members of a book club on the small island of Guernsey who have survived German occupation during WWII. As a big fan of letter writing and book clubs (and a big believer in the power of words in general), this especially appealed to me. The epistolary style was a fun way to learn about the characters and their relationships with each other, and by the end I was half in love with several of the islanders.

Charming, at times harrowing, funny, and warm. I would highly recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, feel-good story about the power of books and the resilience of the human spirit. The sweet love story doesn’t hurt, either.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Publisher: The Dial Press (July 29th, 2008)

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII, Literature and Fiction

Devoured… on the couch while… I dreamed of crisp mornings spent on foggy beaches.

Purchase your copy here.

Mary Ann ShafferAuthor: Mary Ann Shaffer (and Annie Barrows)

Mary Ann Shaffer worked as an editor, a librarian, and in bookshops. Her life-long dream was to someday write her own book and publish it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel. Unfortunately, she became very ill with cancer and so she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half, to help her finish the book. Mary Ann Shaffer died in February 2008, a few months before her first novel was published.

 

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