The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Rating: Loved It
Source: Library (Audio)
Description: "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers."
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends - and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - born as a spur of the moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island - boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will changer her forever. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written world in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising way. (from Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: I just saw the words literary society in the title and couldn't resist!
My Impression: I loved this book. I really didn't expect too. I expected to like it - it's a Literary Society after World War II which is one of my favorite topics and one of my favorite settings. But it's also a story told in letters from multiple different characters. While I do like an epistolary novels I don't always make the biggest emotional connections to the characters and since this had multiple senders there's the worry that it would end up being really confusing.
That wasn't the case at all with either concerns. From the beginning I loved Juliet's voice. Her humor came through clearly and I especially loved her exchanges with the very dry Sidney who is her publisher and longtime friend. But the book really gets started with the first letter from Dawsey Adams arrives and Juliet first learns about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. From there we meet Isola, Amelia, Ebon, John and a whole cast of other characters all with stories to tell about the occupation and books. The stories of the occupation where tragic, heartbreaking and fascinating. I was so interested that I frequently found myself looking up a particular fact or story to see if it had really happened. I always think it's a good sign if a fiction book makes me want to research a nonfiction subject!
As far as emotional connection it was definitely not a problem. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and there were several times I found myself with a tear or two in my eye. Sometimes they were happy tears and once or twice they were not. I hated for the book to end because I loved these characters so much and wanted to know even more about them. My only complaint is that the end was a little overly tied up and happened kind of in a rush. While I was pleased with how it ended I think I would have liked it if had come together a little slower.
Audio Note: The audio is fantastic for this one! There several narrators and they all do a wonderful job. I was a little worried that it would be hard to keep track of who was saying what but the voices were so distinctive that it was no trouble.
Overall, I really enjoyed not only the story itself but the experience of listening to it. The story is at time funny and at times heartbreakingly poignant and I thoroughly enjoyed ever minute of it.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely! Especially if you enjoy books about the home front in World War II