Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 248 (Kindle)
Published: May 2009 (UK)
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Happy Friday everyone! Today's book review is Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow's 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society'. Wow, that's a mouthful. Good job, I'm just typing ;).
"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
(Synopsis from Goodreads - Link)
I was so excited to read this book! Yes, it was published back in 2009 but it's been on my TBR since then! I remember watching the film not too long ago, and that spurred me on to finally getting around to reading the book - and I'm glad to say that I really enjoyed it!
The first thing that you notice about this book is the structure - it's written in epistolary form (letters) which takes some getting used to at first, but soon enough it becomes easy and natural to read. There's also a few characters that are introduced at once and it was a little confusing to work out who's who but again, it all clicks in soon enough.
Set in 1946, the main focus of the book is on Juliet Ashton, an author who came to fame through her 'Izzy Bickerstaff' articles published during WWII. She's eager to find a new subject different from Izzy and coincidentally receives a letter from Dawsey who lives in Guernsey. They bond over their love for Charles Lamb and Juliet arranges a visit to Dawsey and his friends, to meet those who formed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. This society was formed by a Guernsey group on-the-spot after they were questioned by the Germans as to why they were out after curfew - their lie had to appear truthful if they were ever questioned again and so The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was formed.
I liked how this book flowed, Juliet is a well written character and you could easily picture the person behind the letters. If that makes sense?! This book is very sweet, with some humour and of course, some serious topics in there too - with Guernsey's Occupation and mentions of the treatment of Polish people and Jews during this time. While Juliet and the society itself isn't itself a true story, Guernsey's Occupation is, so it was interesting to see and learn about it through Juliet. Oh, and not to forget the many Oscar Wilde mentions (his work here and here - he's my fave!). The setting was wonderful too - as soon as I finished the book I reached for my laptop to research Guernsey and add it to my list of holiday destinations (no word of a lie!).
My only critique however, was that the ending was very sudden. I didn't actually realise it was the last page, as it didn't feel like an ending at all! Obviously my review is spoiler-free but you'll see what I mean if you decide to give it a read.
I really do recommend this book and rate it four out of five stars, if you're after a sweet read and fancy a little bit of escapism (particularly now) then this is the book for you. Anyway, I'm off to watch the film again, and dream of Guernsey....
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
I might review the film too, or do a Book vs. Film, if anyone is interested?
Take care and stay safe,