The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

November 19, 2009

guernsey-literary Plot summary (with spoilers): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel that takes place in 1946, shortly after the conclusion of World War II. Thirty-something Juliet Ashton is a promising author whose first book was a minor success, and who is now being pressured by publisher (and good friend) Sidney for a follow-up piece. Unfortunately, Juliet is tired of all the usual ways that people are writing about the war, but is fresh out of new ideas for a second book.

Then she unexpectedly receives a letter from a man she doesn’t know. His name is Dawsey Adams, and he’s from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. He recently bought a used book about Charles Lamb, in which Juliet’s name was inscribed. Dawsey wants to read more books about Lamb, but the selection on Guernsey is, well, nonexistent. Could Juliet point him in the direction of a London bookseller instead? Juliet does one better by sending Dawsey some actual books. From there, a new friendship is born.

Soon, Juliet is trading letters not only with Dawsey, but with other colorful inhabitants of the island. Bit by bit, she hears about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was formed to help the islanders get through the period of extreme hardship during the German occupation. Juliet is intensely interested in their stories, and quickly comes to view all her pen pals as true friends.

Juliet is so intrigued by everything she hears that she decides nothing less than a journey to Guernsey will satisfy her curiosity. So she goes to visit her new friends, where she feels at home right away. She is particularly drawn to Dawsey, as well as a four-year-old orphan named Kit. Upon hearing the incredible story of Kit’s mother and father, Juliet discovers the perfect angle for her new book. And she discovers true love, too, as she and Dawsey end up tying the know within a few months and hiring cross country movers soon thereafter to help make the relocation complete.

Liked:

  • Juliet was a wonderful character, and seemed like someone I would love to know in real life. Even through letters, her personality, charm, and wit came through loud and clear. I felt that I could read her stuff forever!
  • I enjoyed reading about the Guernsey residents’ experiences during the war. Even though they weren’t right in the midst of all the fighting, they still suffered greatly in their own way. It was interesting to get things told from this unique point of view.
  • Of course Juliet and Dawsey belonged together! They both loved Charles Lamb! I thought it was terrific how a correspondence about books turned into a full-blown love affair.
  • I really loved hearing the literary society’s take on various authors and books, but I wanted more, more, MORE of those discussions!

Disliked:

  • Although I liked the fact that Juliet and Dawsey ended up together, I wish more time had been spent on their interactions on the island. I appreciate that Dawsey was shy and all that, but there should have been more conversations between the two or more flirting or more chance encounters.

Rating:

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This is a lighthearted book that is well-written, fun, and a bit romantic as well — perfect for curling up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

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