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

October 7, 2009

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Dial Press

290 pages

ISBN: 9780385341004

It’s 1946 and World War II is over in Europe but the ripple effect is still lashing wildly at the hearts and minds of the world. London author, Juliet Ashton, is on a rather reluctant book tour circuit when a much more interesting project finds her. She receives a letter from Guernsey, sent by a man who recently came across a book owned by Juliet at some previous date. Juliet begins writing to her new pen pal, collecting several other interested parties on the island along the way. As she discovers the island, she rediscovers, through new eyes, the ways the war touched the Channel Island when everything seemed occupation free on the mainland.

I was not at all sure about this book when I first heard about it. For one, it seemed to be a kitschy, sappy, best-seller type that book clubs were eating up. Not my cup tea, thank you very much. I’ve also read just about all there is to read, extensively so in fiction, regarding World War II and thought the premise less than original. I wasn’t keen on the gimmick of the letter format, either. Of course, books meant to be read have a way of finding the people who need to read them and after the tenth recommendation from “reasonable” people, I thought I ought to give it a go, even if to honestly say it wasn’t for me if people asked.

As usual, my preconceived judgments about a book were wrong. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is fantastic. The characters are oddly well developed even though the entire story is told from letter perspective. Instead of feeling choppy or taking on the form of giant monologues, the letters served to propel the story along, fleshing out plot and people. As with most books, fiction or non, that touch on Europe before, during and after the war, this is not a light book and has some hard parts, both personally touching and universally appalling.

The only complaint I have is that it is generally considered Young Adult which seems strange to me as it certainly would do well in an older audience. I hope that more “grown ups” find their way to the back to this book. For that purpose, I’m labeling this under general fiction, really, as it should be.

I’d also like to say thank you to Lisa for the copy I won from her TLC Tour review.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. jpetroroy permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:08 pm

    It’s catalogued under Adult, I know, and I’ve definitely seen mostly adults checking it out! So that’s good.

  2. iwriteinbooks permalink*
    October 7, 2009 7:30 pm

    Ah, I think it may just be recommended for YA’s then. Really, I think everyone, no matter their age, should read it. :O)

  3. October 7, 2009 8:19 pm

    I know it was shelved with the grown-up books at my library! I think it could be a good read for teens, too, but I certainly enjoyed it myself.

  4. October 7, 2009 8:48 pm

    I had this checked out from the library but had to return it before I got a chance to read it. I’ll have to see about getting my hands on it again. It sounds like a lovely read.

  5. October 8, 2009 9:11 am

    Glad you liked it! it was one of my favorite books this year. 🙂

  6. stacybuckeye permalink
    October 8, 2009 7:47 pm

    I didn’t realized this was recommended as a YA book. Great review. I have it on my shelf, waiting to be read.

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