No beating around the bush with this review — I absolutely loved this book. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which I’ll abbreviate as Guernsey for the remainder of the review since that title is a mouthful) appears to be a light read at first glance, comprised of letters written by London-based writer Juliet Ashton, her publisher, and the various members of a literary society based in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands near England. But it is a very deep book that touches upon the horrors of war and the struggles people face when choosing to stand up for what is right despite the threat of death.
The year is 1946. Juliet is known for a column she wrote during World War II to lighten people’s moods, which is funny since she’s a bit moody (don’t ask her about her almost marriage to a soldier who died in the war). She receives a letter from a Mr. Dawsey Adams wondering if she could direct him to a store where he could purchase books by and about Charles Lamb. He contacted Juliet because her name and address were written in the Lamb book he carries with him and has grown to love. Dawsey lives on Guernsey, an island occupied by the Nazis during the war. When Juliet learns through his letter that a roast pig led to the creation of a literary society to avoid punishment by the Nazis for breaking curfew, Juliet gets an idea for a story and begins a correspondence with Dawsey and other members of the literary society.
In Guernsey, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows created many lovable characters. I immediately liked Juliet, and fell in love with the literary society members right along with her. The letters were beautifully written, and they flowed seamlessly from one to another. Each letter was written in the distinctive voice of a single character, yet put together, they created a rich picture of loss, survival, and joy experienced by the people of Guernsey under Nazi rule.
When Juliet travels to Guernsey and meets the people with whom she has been corresponding, she plans to get enough information to write a book. Her experiences on the island transform her, and her presence changes the people of Guernsey as well. I don’t want to go into the plot more than that because this is a gem of a story with many layers that you should peel back for yourself. Guernsey has received rave reviews from many bloggers, and it exceeded my high expectations. If you still haven’t read it yet, get your hands on a copy right away. You’re in for a real treat.
Disclosure: I purchased my copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I am an Amazon associate.
© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.