Synopsis: 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.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.
Review: What a delightful read! The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and her niece, Annie Burrows, is a story that brings to life fictional residents of the Guernsey channel following World War 2 through a series of letters.
Juliet Ashton, a writer in London is in search of an idea for a new book, she is supported by good friend Sophie and long-time friend and editor, Sidney. When Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey, a pig farmer from Guernsey who has stumbled across one of Juliet’s pre-loved Charles Lamb books and in search of more, a delightful friendship ensues. He sheds light on the infamous Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society created during the wartime by a group of local (eccentric) residents. The creation of this society and its participants sparks Juliet’s interest and she hopes this lead will provide the foundation for her next book. And so, Dawsey’s friends become involved in sending Juliet letters and they all unravel their lives through the written word to the very appreciative Juliet.
Juliet is a witty, intelligent protagonist who comes to life through the letters and the authors’ excellent storytelling and character development is to thank for that. Dawsey is a reserved bloke who I had a soft spot for and I also really liked Isola Pribby a Bronte fanatic and member of the literary society.
The letters from the society and Juliet’s fascination of Guernsey is inevitably drawn to missing resident, Elizabeth McKenna who was imprisoned in a German Concentration Camp, leaving behind her now 5 year old daughter, Kit. There’s also a starring role for (Miss) Adelaide Addison who likes to put her two sense worth into the correspondence and I can’t forget the charming and handsome Mark V Reynolds who dotes on Juliet in London.
Athough this story is funny and enjoyable there’s also a healthy balance of sadness, grief and sympathy for the stories that emerge from the Guernsey war experience.
The characters are solid, the writing is engaging and the story made me want to visit Guernsey and join the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!
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About the author: Mary Ann Shaffer worked as an editor, a librarian, and in bookshops. Her life-long dream was to someday write her own book and publish it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel. Unfortunately, she became very ill with cancer and so she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half, to help her finish the book. Mary Ann Shaffer died in February 2008, a few months before her first novel was published.
This novel was read as part of this challenge: