18 September 2009


"It’s January, 1946, and writer Juliet Ashton sits at her desk, vainly seeking a subject for her next book.
Out of the blue, she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams of Guernsey — by chance, he’s acquired a secondhand book that once belonged to Juliet — and, spurred on by their mutual love of Charles Lamb, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Juliet’s curiosity is piqued, and it’s not long before she begins to hear from the other members. As the letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German occupation, Juliet soon realises that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name. There’s gawky Isola, who makes love potions to sell along with her vegetables; Eben, a fisherman with a passion for Shakespeare; Will, erstwhile ironmonger and the creator of the famous potato peel pie; and Dawsey himself, a farmer with a shy manner and a tender heart.
Most poignant of all are the memories of Elizabeth, the founding member of the society, who fell in love with a German officer, saved a starving prisoner, and was sent away to a concentration camp, leaving her child behind.
Sustained by books and one another, the islanders have battled the bitter hardships of World War Two. Juliet, entranced by their stories and their spirit, decides to visit Guernsey to meet her new friends properly.
A moving tale of the power of friendship, books and love, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will beguile the heart and mind."

The description above was taken from the publisher's site and I think it sums up the book quite well. However, just the summary doesn't do the book justice as this really is one of those books that you need to experience yourself to appreciate it properly. And how cute is the title?! Sadly the whole of it doesn't fit in my subject line, but isn't THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY just the kind of title that grabs your attention? Especially with the cover; I think it definitely stands out.

I've had a copy of this book for over a year and I don't know why it took me so long to start reading it (I could blame the massive TBR pile, heh). Anyway, as soon as I started reading the book, I fell in love with it, mostly with the wonderful writing and the delightful characters!

The novel consists of letters between several characters, e.g. the writer Juliet, her friend Sophie, her editor Sidney and several people from Guernsey. Thus, the whole story, which takes place in 1946, is revealed through the letters, which is a lovely concept in itself, but the problem I have with it is that the readers only get to see fragments of the actual events and consequently the characters are less developed too, which is a bit of a downpoint, even if the characters as such are incredibly lovely. The concept of the novel was interesting, but I think the plot itself slowly became a bit boring if I dare say so myself. There were things going on, but I personally wasn't entirely gripped by them so perhaps that was just me.

Other than that, I whoreheartedly enjoyed this wonderful gem of a novel! As I said, the writing is rich and fantastic, and I couldn't help but fall in love with all the lovely and quirky characters. I really enjoyed reading all the letters just to enjoy the brilliant writing, which really captivated me and kept me entertained! Thus I'd love to read more by Mary Ann Shaffer, but sadly this great author sadly passed away last year.

The novel was generally quite witty - it had me laughing out loud several times and I was grinning nearly all the time because I had such a lovely time reading it, but the novel features also some powerful and tragic descriptions of things that took place there during World War II; obviously, this couldn't be avoided since the novel takes place right after the War ended. I personally thought those description were fitting (can't vouch for accuracy) and added a more serious (but not depressing) note to the novel, which, on the whole, was delightfully funny and such an enjoyable treat to read.

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5

ps: Watch the video below to listen to some lovely extracts from the books!


Anonymous said...

I love the cover! If I was a historical reader I'd read this as it sounds good! The title is also fab. Long, but fab!

Btw, I plan to start I Remember You next week - sorry for taking so long to get to it!!


bookalicious said...

This isn't really a historical read as such, it's quite timeless and lovely. I've just added a video with some extracts from the book, forgot to include it before, but it's great!
Oooh, no probs about the book! As I said, I'm not planning to read it anytime soon so you just take your time and read it when you feel like it. I am looking forward to your review though! :)

Janssen said...

Wasn't this SO delightful?! I loved it.

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