Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This beautiful book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is definitely one of favorite books of the year. I wondered about it because it's received so many fantastic reviews and I hate when there's that much hype about a book and then I hate it... but this one is beautiful and touching and interesting and really, really deserves all the praise.

The story is told through letters between the various characters. There are in fact two stories - one of Juliet who is living in London in 1946 trying to come up with an idea for a novel and one is about some inhabitants of Guernsey and what German occupation looked like for them during the war. The two come together because one of the Guernsey men finds a book that had once belonged to Juliet and writes to her.

As the stories of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society unfold, Juliet starts to care about the people involved and begins to realise something about what's important in others and in life. The stories are wonderful, the characters are engaging, the writing is charming.

The way the occupation is described reminds me of the second part of Suite Francaise - the Germans and the locals start to get to know each other and it turns out that they are all human beings who don't want to be in that situation. It doesn't seem to matter who started it...

Here are a few of my favorite quotes - there were way too many good ones to write down though!

Juliet on her old flat being destroyed in a bombing:

"I know that I am fortunate to have any place at all to live in London, but I much prefer whining to counting my blessings."
Juliet on not being able to buy new shoes to go with her new dress:

"...doesn't it seem shocking to hqve more stringent rationing after the war than during the war? I realise that hundreds of thousands of people all over Europe must be fed, housed and clothed, but privately I resent it that so many of them are Germans."
Juliet on finding out more about the German occupation of Guernsey:

"I want to talk to people like him (...) and hear about their war, because that's what I'd like to read, instead of statistics about grain."
The comments on the back cover say that you won't want it to end and it's true. I now want to visit Guernsey and I will be very, very disappointed if the characters from this book don't live there!

Challenges: 999 Challenge, Countdown Challenge, War through the Generations


Ana S. said...

I think I've yet to see a single negative review of this! And though expectations can be dangerous, I doubt I'll be disappointed in this case.

Thoughts of Joy said...

It was a beautiful book, indeed and one of my favorites, as well.

serendipity_viv said...

I can't wait to read this one. I have heard such rave reviews for it. I wonder how long I will have to wait to get it from the library.

joanna said...

Nymeth - I doubt it too, I really think this is your kind of book.

Joy - it's nice to add something this beautiful to a favorites list!

Scrap Girl - Oh I hope you don't have to wait too long!

Kailana said...

This was such a good book! I was so glad that I read it last year. :)

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

I want to read this, but for some reason never remember to buy it. I must make a note.

joanna said...

Kailana - definitely!

Rose - I hope you enjoy it!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Maybe I'll read this this weekend. I've heard so many good things about it, and it sounds like the story and characters really swept you away. It's always great to find a book that you don't want to end.

Lydia said...

Now I want to read this too - I love writing and receiving letters. I shall keep an eye out for this in the English bookshops around Brussels. If I don't find it soon, I might have to cave in and order it from

joanna said...

Trish - it's a perfect weekend read!

Lydia - I'm sure Waterstone's will have it! :-)

Anna said...

I'm glad you liked it, too. I know I'm really late with this one, but I've posted it here.

Diary of an Eccentric