Friday, May 9, 2014

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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

Published: Dial Press
Format: ebook and paperback
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 290
Genre: Fiction
Source: personal copies

Squeeeee! I loved this book! Much jumping up and down. 

Oh - well I guess that isn't much of a review. Let me try again. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel set in the period right after World War II.  Juliet Ashton spent the war writing pithy, light-hearted articles under the name Izzy Bickerstaff and the book starts with Juliet on a book tour promoting Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War - a compilation of said articles. She is trying to work out what to do next.

Then Juliet gets a letter from Dawsey Adams, a Guernsey farmer who finds Juliet's name inscribed in a used book that he greatly admires. This minor incident leads to an ever-widening circle of correspondence, eventually providing anecdotes both trivial and profound about the conditions in Guernsey while it was under German occupation. While it might take a while to get the cast sorted out, the characters do develop strong and individual voices that make it a pleasure to hop from letter to letter in order to find out what happens next.

There are no real surprises in the plot, but that is because the novel has a clear narrative flow that allows the reader to say 'Ha! I thought so!' rather than thinking 'Well, duh."

I read this book just after reading 84, Charing Cross Road (well, actually with a couple of false starts in between, but they don't count) and was utterly charmed. On the other hand, this book did get me in trouble with my Wondrous Words Wednesday 14 entry.  Well, no, still charmed.

Here are a couple of quotes. From page one ...

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? ...

and from page 219 ...

Isola doesn't approve of small talk and believes in breaking the ice by stomping on it.

Oh - and here is that cartoon ...

This is a five claw book for me - I want to re-read it and I plan to buy another copy to give one to my mother, which pretty much seems to be a reasonable definition for a five claw book. 


  1. It was a 5* read for me as well. I am pleased you enjoyed reading this one.

  2. Ha! I love that you posted the cartoon! And man, this must have been a great companion read with 84 Charing Cross Road. I love both of those two books for exactly all the same reasons.


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