Friday, May 2, 2014

A peak into The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader.

For Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon, one of the books that I read was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I really, really liked it and it went well with 84, Charing Cross Road both stylistically (they are both epistolary novels) and by virtue of time period and setting, though 84, Charing Cross is biography not fiction.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society starts with ...

Dear Sidney,

     Susan Scott is a wonder. We sold over forty copies of the book, which was very pleasant, but much more thrilling from my standpoint was the food. Susan managed to procure ration coupons for icing sugar and real eggs for the meringue. If all her literary luncheons are going to to achieve these heights, I won't mind touring about the country. Do you suppose that a lavish bonus could spur her on to butter? ...


I need a nonfiction book too - in honor of the airing of the show (you can view episodes on PBS (, here is the opening to Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin ...

Typical summers of my adult life are spent in snow and sleet, cracking rocks on cliffs well north of the Arctic Circle. Most of the time I freeze, get blisters, and find absolutely nothing. But if I have any luck, I find ancient fish bones. They may not sound like buried treasure to most people, but to me it is more valuable than gold.

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice from page 56 of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society we have ...

Dear Sidney,

     I haven't heard from you in ages. Does your icy silence have anything to do with [redacted]?

     I have an idea for a new book. It's a novel about a beautiful yet sensative author whose spirit is crushed by her domineering editor. Do you like it ?

                            Love always,


And from Your Inner Fish we can't use page 56 because it would require rather a lot of explanation, so starting on page 55 instead ...

Sharks and their relatives are the earliest creatures that have fins with a skeleton inside. Ideally, to answer Randy question, you would want to bring a 400-million year old shark fossil into the laboratory, grind it up, and look at its genetic structure. Then you'd try to manipulate its fossil embryos to learn whether Sonic hedgehog* is active in the same general place as our limbs today. This would be a wonderful experiment, but it is impossible. We cannot extract DNA from fossils so old, and, even if we could, we could never find embryos of those fossil animals on which to do experiments. 

Living sharks and their relatives are the next best thing. Nobody would ever confuse a shark fin for a human hand: you couldn't ask for two more different kinds of appendages.

*Sonic hedgehog - a gene sequence that has to do with formation of digits - like fingers - like signaling formation of a finger and thumb rather than fifth finger. If you are interested in learning more, the book does an excellent job of explaining or Wikipedia has a decent writeup.


  1. Love the beginning. I would go on.....

    Here is my Book Beginning post!!

    Great 56 too!!

    Here is my Friday 56post!!

  2. I have the Potato Peel Society on my tbr list but I never heard of the other. Great 56's :)
    Come see my Friday 56
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

  3. I'd really like to read the first book.

    Happy weekend!

  4. I love both these books (with Charing Cross being just a bit more favored). Great choices! Here is my Friday Post

  5. I haven't read the Guernsey Potato Society. Must read it. I have read 84 Charing Cross Road. Loved it. Such a great relationship with a woman across the sea and the book store in England.

  6. This was a great read.


    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Beginnings


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