Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guernsey Literary

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

What a wonderful treat this book was!  I had read so many reviews that strongly recommended this book, and I am glad that I finally got my hands on it and read it!  The story is set in 1946 and it is written in epistolary format, or a series of letters.  Not only that, but it is a book about books, and the people who love them.  While reading this gem, I laughed, cried, cheered, and truly wished to have met all of these wonderful characters that were drawn before me. 

One of the main characters, Juliet Ashton, is an author who wrote a series of humorous columns about living in London during World War II.  The other characters in the book are various residents of the island of Guernsey and friends of Juliet’s.  Guernsey is a place I wanted to go to after reading this book, so that I could meet Kit, Dawsey and Isola.  If you didn’t already know, Guernsey is a Channel Island, in the English Channel, closer to France, but British protected.

The story starts with Juliet writing to her friend and publisher, Sidney, stating that she doesn’t want to do the book tour, but then later states how she is enjoying herself.  Once she is back in London, she receives a letter that first went to her original flat, which was since bombed during the war.  It is written by a man named Dawsey Adams, and he felt compelled to write to Juliet, as he had come into possession of one of her previously owned books that was written by Charles Lamb.  He enjoyed it so much, along with a few scraps of paper (maybe a postcard or two), that he had to mention it.  This began a long series of letters between these two characters, plus several other characters from Guernsey.  Dawsey mentioned that he belongs to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, thus piquing Juliet’s interest in a group who called themselves such a name. 

Juliet became so engrossed in the lives of the residents of Guernsey through numerous letters sent back and forth across the Channel, she visited the island in order to research and find more information so that she could write their story in a novel.  The two wonderful ladies who wrote this book did a fabulous job of creating characters that not only can you truly get a sense of who they are, but the reader wants to go to Guernsey in hopes of meeting them.  This story is fictional based on several facts about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, specifically Guernsey.  It had been some time that I have read a book that focused on World War II and the atrocities that occurred during that dark period of our humanity’s history.  While most of this book was very light-hearted, there were a few scenes that made this reader stop and pause. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading.  You will get a history lesson and you will make new friends while you are at it.  You will find yourself cheering and shouting out, and you will also feel!  Feel the joy and the sorrow along with the residents of Guernsey.  I feel that this is a wonderful book to be read by ANY and EVERY one!  It is no one specific genre, but a delicious story that needs to be savoured; but, unfortunately, there is no recipe for Potato Peel Pie... not that we would want one!

5 Stars!

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