Daily Archives: January 3, 2011

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society – Review

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

Age: Adult

Back cover synopsis:

January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, besides having an incredibly long name which shall now be shortened to GLPPPS, is written as a series of letters between writer Juliet Ashton and the various people in her life. Somewhat similar to the style of Ella Minnow Pea, we learn about the characters based on the correspondence between the main character and those in her circle.

I always thought this writing device was a clever way to engage in witty dialogue and introduce characters without getting too bogged down in unnecessary background information. As a result of the wit and charm in the writing, the book is a light and quick read. For any bibliophile, there are a number of I-love-book quotes all throughout the book. The GLPPPS is an ode to literature and to literacy. I thought the authors did a fantastic job of incorporating the horrors and struggles of living under the German occupation through the descriptions of the characters. Although approached in a lighthearted manner, the authors did not underscore the painful memories that resulted from World War 2.

I felt that most of the characters lacked the depth that would come in a typical novel. I think this is because we only know what the characters tell us about themselves, so its not very much. The characters on the island of Guernsey were lovable and quirky, but their quirks were somewhat expected. One thing that did break the spell of the book was when Juliet went to visit her new friends on Guernsey. I thought it was quite odd that the islanders entrusted the care of a toddler that the entire town had raised from an infant, to a virtual stranger based solely on their correspondence and shared love of literature. Another fault was that other than the reflections of the war, there seemed to be no other conflicts in the book. It got a little too lovey-dovey to be believable and I found it annoying that everyone loved Juliet as soon as they met her and that she could do no wrong.

This book is a darling of book clubs around the nation right now, based on its 628 glowing reviews on LibraryThing. Its is a quick and fun read, great for a rainy day.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Dial Press, 2008
ISBN 9780385341004
288 pages


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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society