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

Okay, so apparently I am the LAST person to read this book.  What took me so long?  Why hadn’t I read this one earlier?  I can’t even explain how much I loved this book.  I was reading it today at the gym on the treadmill and literally had to stop and go wipe the tears that were falling.  I may have looked a bit odd to the other people in the gym, but I love when a book does that to me.

Summary: This book is told entirely in letters, something I do not usually enjoy, but more on that in my review section.  The “narrator” is Juliet Ashton, a well-known author.  The story begins right after World War II, in England.  London, and everywhere else for that matter, is still reeling from the aftermath of the war.  Juliet is struggling to pick up her own life and find something to write about, when she receives a letter from a man living on the island of Guernsey (located on the English channel).  Apparently this man had found a copy of book that once belonged to her.  The two begin corresponding to one another and he tells her about his life in Guernsey during the war.  Juliet finds his story fascinating and decides she wants to publish a weekly article about what it was like to be under German occupation.  Soon other people on the island begin writing to Juliet and she finds herself swept up in their lives. She decides to go to Guernsey so she can learn more and complete her research.  While many of the stories she hears are heartbreakingly sad, there is always an overwhelming amount of love, strength, and triumph of human spirit.  This is the kind of story that makes you remember all the kindness and good in the world, even in the darkest of times.

Review: I do not normally like books that switch voices, I usually experience a disconnect with the characters, but this was not the case.  I loved all the characters, each one was fully developed and had their own adorable and charming quirks.  We all have heard of the horrors of the concentration camps and what life was like there, but this story tells a whole other side of the war that I knew nothing about.  In fact, I had never even heard of Guernsey before this book.  And the stories!  Parents forced with the decision of sending their children to England or keeping them home and under the threat of Nazis, women who faced death to save and feed starving prisoners, German soldiers facing death to give starving children a potato off their truck, these stories will stay with me forever.  If you are one of those people who haven’t read this book yet, don’t waste another minute…..read it today!!

8 thoughts on “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  1. I too loved it, both in print and as an audio. I actually get upset when I see reviews (admittedly only a few) that say the reader didn’t like the book, thought the people were stupid or vapid, etc. This is one of my all time favorite books. Wanna round up some other Maine librarians and plan a trip to Guernsey? (I’ll keep buying lottery tickets) LOL

  2. Aw, I’m glad you liked it! I was expecting it to be terrible (don’t know why) and was pleasantly surprised. I love a good epistolary novel. :)

  3. This book was just chosen to be the Reading Across RI book for 2010. I think it will be a great event for our state. But, I must admit that I did not love this book. It was OK, but I felt it was very predictable and the characters were stereotypes. I agree that the story was an interesting look at WWII and I learned a lot about this part of the world at this period of time. And I do enjoy an episotlary novel. But, for me, it was just OK – not great.

  4. You’re not the last person to read this as I just barely finished it. Absolutely loved it. It’s just a “feel-good” book.

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