The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is a homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”
This is one of my all-time favourite books. I came across this novel several years ago when my mom read it and the cover caught my eye (yes, I do judge books by their covers). Since then, I am guessing I have read this book about five times and it never fails to make me smile. I cannot speak highly enough of this novel.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a series of letters written between the characters in the story just after the Second World War. Juliet is a London-based writer trying to find the passion for a topic that can hold her attention long enough to write a book. One day, she receives a letter from a stranger named Dawsey, a resident of the island of Guernsey, who came into possession of one of Juliet’s old books during the war. From this chance connection, Juliet is taken up with the story of the wartime occupation of Guernsey and the lives of its residents, particularly of the “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” which arose from hilarious and terrifying wartime circumstances.
While I have seen mixed reviews of the style of this novel, I love the use of letters to tell this story. The letters in this collection come from every character we meet in the novel, giving us points of view otherwise impossible in a story like this. We get the innermost thoughts and feelings of these characters. We see their insecurities, their dreams, their successes and failures, their quirks. I fell in love with every single one of these individuals: Juliet, Sidney, Isola, Eben, Eli, Kit and Dawsey, even the more neurotic Miss Adelaide Addison, and the hilariously dark Lady Bella Taunton whose character reference for Juliet is, in my opinion, worth the price of admission.
Without giving away the wonderful stories and taking away from the enjoyment of reading this novel, I cannot say much more about its plot or the specifics of its characters. What I can say is, on those days you are searching your shelves for a quick, light-hearted read that can make you smile, can make you cry and can make you fall in love with books, look no farther than Guernsey.