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

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 10th July 2008
Pages: 248

 

 

Alright, I hope you’re ready for a gushing review – because that’s definitely what this one is going to be! It may have a mouthful of a title, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an instant new favourite of mine, and a strong contender for the best book I’ve read so far in 2019.

This epistolary novel is told entirely through letters sent and received by Juliet Ashton, an author from London who has made a name for herself writing comedic fiction throughout the Second World War. The novel opens in 1946, where we find Juliet trying to come up with a subject for her next book when she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams from Guernsey, who was a member of the titular literary society during the Nazi occupation of the island during the war.

Through Juliet’s correspondence with Dawsey we are introduced to various other members of the literary society – and these characters were definitely a highlight of the novel for me. From the quirky Isola Pribby and her quest to find her life’s calling, to doting grandfather Eben Ramsey whose grandson Eli was evacuated to Yorkshire during the war, I really felt as if I was reading about the lives of real people.

Much of the novel’s plot focuses on the occupation of Guernsey during the war, and it was here that the authors’ meticulous research shone through. Reading about some of the atrocities faced by the residents of Guernsey during the war made me so angry, because in all the years I spent studying WWII in History classes at school, not once were any of these issues covered.

There were definitely some emotional moments in this book, but it maintained a hopeful, heartwarming style –  very similar to Dear Mrs Bird, one of my favourite novels of 2018. The authors succeeded in building up an excellent picture of their fictional Guernsey literary society, highlighting how the war entangled various members of the community in unexpected and unusual ways. Each character had their own story to tell, but there was still a central overarching narrative to drive the plot forward.

At only 248 pages long, this is a relatively short novel, and I would have happily read another 200 pages about these wonderful characters’ lives! The epistolary format may be a turn-off for some, but I personally love this style of novel – and if you do too, I would highly recommend giving this beautiful story a read.

 

2 thoughts on “Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

    • Ffion says:

      I watched the film after reading the book, and loved them both for different reasons! The film is more streamlined and fast-paced, but I love all the detail you get in the book 🙂

      Like

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