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 change her forever.
Pages: 290 (paperback)
Publisher: May 5th 2009 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 2008)
Rating: 10 out of 10
Source: Won from a contest hosted by a book blogger that I can no longer remember
Date Completed: June 27, 2013
I have had The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows on my to-read shelf for quite a while and was very excited that it was picked as the June selection for the Boston book club. From the first page, I completely loved the book! The story is perfect for people who love books, appreciate the value of written correspondence, and want to cheer along as a love story unfolds.
The book is a collection of letters between Juliet and various other people which describes the formation of a book club on the Island of Guernsey during the German occupation. In the course of correspondence, there are glimpses into what life was like during the occupation. I cried at several points during the book, particularly during a passage describing children leaving on a ship. There was also a humanization of the soliders as described in the romance between Elizabeth and a German solider. You also get a taste for how much the members care for each other as they begin to care for Kit, Elizabeth's daughter when she is taken to a concentration camp.
Many moments made me pause to either cry, laugh, or absorb. One of my favorite parts of the story was the unfolding romance between Elizabeth and Dawsey. In particular, I appreciated the description of marriage and what a partnership should be; I wanted to cheer loudly. Most especially, I love this quote about what Juliet wants out of a relationship:
“I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.”
I also liked this description of what marriage means and wish I had found it earlier so that I could have somehow incorporated it into my own marriage ceremony:
“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged -- after all, what's good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it's a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ”
Even though I finished the book a few months ago, I still keep thinking about it. I also want to correpond with someone via postal service.