Friday, May 28, 2010

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

It is 1946. World War II has just ended and Juliet Ashton, author of the popular series Izzy Bickerstaff goes to war is looking for her next project. Out of the blue she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, an inhabitant of Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel) who found her name and address in a book she used to own. This begins a correspondence between Julia and several residents of the Island for an article she is writing and evolves into friendship. The residents first tell of how they were influenced by books during the war which leads to the story of how the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society formed. As Juliet gets to know each one better, they also share their stories of the German occupation of their island. Juliet soon decides she wants to write her next novel about Guernsey but isn’t sure which direction it should take. She decides to travel to the Island to meet her pen pal friends in person and also to take a brief respite from her confusing love life and the attentions of Markham V. Reynolds, a publishing magnate intent on marrying her. Juliet’s trip turns out to be extraordinary as the lives of the residents during the war continue to unfold and she grows closer to them all and finally finds the direction her story and her life should take.

Written in letter format, this book tells the story of a charming and eccentric cast of characters. The heartbreaking descriptions of the struggles of the residents during the German occupation coupled with a well placed dose of humor made this book a joy to read. These people seem like a group you could meet anywhere in a small town community, yet the setting provided a unique view of the occupation.

I only had one tiny issue with the book-the romance aspect. In the first half of the book Juliet is courted by Markham but she starts to develop feelings for someone else. The issue here is there was no gradual build up to this realization for Juliet. It seemed like one minute she was fretting over whether she should marry Markham and the next she was like “I’m in love with ____! The relationship itself wasn’t an issue but the manner in which it was introduced felt a little forced.

This was a delightful, quick read. Not many books can pull off being written entirely in letter format but Shaffer does it very well here. I find it sad that the author did not live to see the huge success this book became and that I will not get to read another novel by her.


  1. This was one of my favourite reads of last year. It was so delightful and so comforting to read! It is a shame that we won't get to read more from this wonderful author.

  2. I absolutely loved this book, so much so that I could easily read it again...and I don't do that!

  3. Like Marg, this was one of my absolute favorite reads from last year. It was fabulous!