“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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.
If I’m being honest this book was on my list before I knew anything about it. Who wouldn’t be interested in a book with such a fantastic title as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? The title drew me in and before I ever held the book in my hands, I had so many questions: What is Guernsey? Or where? Why does the name of a supposed literary society include ‘Potato Peel Pie’? What is a potato peel pie? I finally found this book at Barnes & Noble about a week ago and discovered what it’s about. Being a history buff, and definitely a lover of historical fiction, I knew I had to start this book immediately.
Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows quickly became two of my favorite authors for bringing me such an amazing piece of art. I was sad to find out this was Shaffer’s first and last book because she passed away, but happy that Barrows has another work called The World According to Us. This wasn’t one of those books that began slowly for me, I didn’t need to read the first 50 pages to completely fall in love with it. I fell in love on page 1.
There’s something so unique and enticing about reading a story by way of letters written by the characters and sent to one another. This style brings you so much closer to the characters, you find out who they are based on their words and experiences rather than looking through the eyes of one or two narrators. Eventually, it got to the point that I didn’t need to look to see who the current writer was. I knew each character based on their personality and their words. Juliet Ashton was a fluent and esteemed writer, witty and excitable. Dawsey Adams formal and short-winded, but so obviously loving and selfless. I got to know every character on a deeper level than ever before.
I put off finishing this book deliberately. It’s one that I never wanted to end, I didn’t want to leave their world or their lives behind. I would read this book forever if it would have gone on that long, so when I suddenly had only 30 pages left I did everything I could to stop reading it. I needed to live with and love it for a bit longer. Finally, I couldn’t resist picking it back up and finishing it (I lasted less than a day without it). It ended just as beautifully as it began, but with added bitterness on my part.
This book deserves to be read and loved by many people. A beautifully constructed tale of life after World War II on the island of Guernsey. Budding friendships, love, and the families people made for themselves when they lost everything else. It deserves more than five stars.