The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society,
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society may sound like a mouthful, but it is well worth picking up. You’ll devour it in one sitting, as long as you don’t have small children (like me). I picked up this book in an effort to give my brain a break after reading several heavy books about the Columbine High School killings. I was surprised to find that I was immediately drawn in and thoroughly delighted by every page!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was formed in a brilliant spur-of-the-moment effort to save the lives of several friends during World War II. The Germans occupied the Channel Islands and imposed curfew for everyone, as well as strict rationing. A group of friends were trying to sneak home one night past curfew after indulging themselves in some forbidden pork. They were caught by some German soldiers. Elizabeth, a young single mother, invented the Society in an effort to prevent repercussions for their infraction. The Germans ultimately accepted their ruse and so the Society began meeting regularly, sometimes with surprise German guests, but always with potato peel pie.
After the war, one of the members – Dawsey – happens upon a used book about Charles Lamb with a name in it, Juliet. He chooses to write the previous owner, and so begins a wonderful relationship. Juliet is a young author from London. She enjoyed some fame writing morale columns during the war, but is looking for new opportunities to move on and heal in the post-war years. She is enthralled with the stories of the Society and determines to visit the island to meet the members and perhaps compile information for a book. Instead, she forges new friendships and finds new family amongst the generous and quirky islanders. Their stories are at once amusing and moving, tragic and triumphant. As a result of her newfound passion in Guernsey, Juliet’s life path is completely altered for the better. In fact, she decides to stay forever with a new life, new family, and a whole new outlook on life.
This delightful novel is written primarily as a series of letters between an eccentric but lovable cast of characters. While it might seem like this could be a risk, the authors pull it off flawlessly. The letters are endearing, witty, moving, engaging…they’re wonderful! Any grammatical errors I found were actually part of the vernacular of the characters themselves (and thus not true errors). The plot is sweet and moves at just the right pace as to keep readers engaged and entertained.
I really can’t recommend this book highly enough! It’s such a sweet story and a fast, easy read. If you are looking for a book that will lift your spirits, this is it!