Book Review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society
I recently finished The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. This book has been on my list & I was excited to finally get a chance to read it. Please read on for my book review…
“Treat yourself to this book, please—I can’t recommend it highly enough.”
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society was written by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. The book was published in 2008 by Dial Press & adapted into a film this year. Mary Ann Shaffer & her niece, Annie Barrows wrote the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society together.
Shaffer, who passed away in 2008, sadly was an American writer, librarian, & bookshop worker. Barrows is an American editor & writer, most famous for her series of children’s books titled, Ivy and Bean. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society was the featured on The New York Times Best Seller list for 11 weeks in the top spot. Needless to say, this novel was well received.
“One of those joyful books that celebrate how reading brings people together and sustains them through rough times.”
-New Orleans Times-Picayune
The book is set in 1946 in England & the English Channel Islands, which is entirely composed of letters written from a variety of characters. The main character, Juliet Ashton is a writer, who is feeling a bit lost in terms of her current life situation. Unmarried, seemingly uninterested in the suitors she has, is looking for more in terms of her work, life, etc.
Her most recent book, was written under her pen-name Izzy Bickerstaff, which is a collection of columns is wrote during WWII, providing stories with a comedic twist. While Juliet enjoyed her time as Izzy, she is looking for more. It is here that our story begins…
Juliet receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams from the island of Guernsey. He came across a book that once belonged to Juliet, her address had been written inside the pages. Dawsey writes to Juliet, asking for the name of a bookstore so he can purchase more books. Since the island, which had been occupied by the Germans during the war, was no longer what it was.
Juliet begins correspondence with Dawsey, learns of his literary society, The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society & becomes wrapped up in each member of the societies stories through a series of letters.
“Charming… so clever… so vivid and moving.”
I won’t spoil anymore of the plot!
I really, really, really enjoyed this novel. It was a breath of fresh air! It made me want to go start writing letters again. It made me want to really connect with people. It also made me want to join a book club! While there were a great number of pros to this novel, I will mention one con…
The epistolary format of the novel, while charming & intriguing, made it difficult to follow the characters, the storyline, & who was talking to who at times. I found myself going back a few times halfway through a letter to re-read who it was sent to & from.
With all that being said, this novel delivered exactly what I was looking for. The story & characters are centered around the love of the written word. An unlikely literary society forms during a dark time, & each character found books as a way to bring happiness, establish connections with others, learn about themselves, & more. The power of reading is what leads Juliet to Dawsey, where a whole new world opens for both of them. This book reignited my passion for reading, along with my passion for writing.
Human connection seems to be the root of this story. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit disconnection from myself, others, & the world around me. So often we are hooked to our screens, whether it be a phone, TV, or computer—we spend hours each daily just starring without a need or want for others. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society reminded me just how important those “little things” are… like a solitary cup of tea on a patio, a walk through town, a conversation with a friend, etc.
If you are looking for a book that will take you back, provide some laughs, pull at your heart, & make you want to stay in bed with a pile a books, then this it!
If you’ve read The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Cheers & stay chic!