(Not mine: from here.)
As you may have been able to guess by now, WWII history is fascinating to me. Recently, my mom and I read The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer; I’d run across the title when I was browsing my recommendations on Goodreads last summer, and finally I picked up a copy at a local bookstore. Reading the back of the book, I realized that it might be one that my mom would enjoy, and since we’ve been reading books together for about a year now, I suggested it to her and lo and behold, she was interested. 🙂 So we read it together and discussed it as we progressed through the novel.
The title certainly pulls one in, doesn’t it? Shaffer, who died in 2008, wrote this book in conjunction with her niece, and I believe that they did an excellent job of working together to create a gem of a book. The story takes place in post-WWII London – and Guernsey, of course – and is told by a succession of letters to and from different people. Juliet is our protagonist – an author who is struggling to find something to write about after the war… and as the book progresses, does she ever learn a lot about the Guernsey Islanders and their experiences during the war!! – certainly enough for a novel. However, the more that she learns about the Islanders and the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the less focused she is on writing and getting another work published, and the more involved she gets in the Islanders’ lives… and into the arms of one Dawsey Adams, so different from the flashy Mark from the States, who wants to marry her and have her as a witty, charming trophy wife.
I don’t want to give too much more of the story away, but it is a delightful read. At first, I was a little concerned that I would get confused in regards to the different letters, since so many were being exchanged between so many different people, but Shaffer did a wonderful job of keeping that all sorted out neatly. Juliet becomes more likable by the end of the book than she was at the beginning, and perhaps that is how it should be, since we know her much better at the end than we did at the beginning. However, perhaps part of it is that she loses some of her London socialite “sheen” and instead becomes more earthy and comfortable moving around in Guernsey, rather than crowded, bustling London, and therefore becomes more relatable to the reader.
5/5 stars to this book. 🙂 If you are looking for a quick, fun, interesting, and funny read, I highly recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as something you should definitely delve into. It doesn’t take long to read and is a delight for all of the senses, since Shaffer brings the time period and places alive with vivid imagery, even through letters alone.