2013 Challenges, Books

Book 208: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows - The Gurensey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyI didn’t want this book to end and that’s really all I want to write for this review, but I’ll harp on for a good while I’m sure. I’m sad that it’s over but happy that I read it. The ending made me both smile for the cuteness of it, but also made me sad it was finished! I wanted to know so much more about the characters and the stories and everything! There was just so much left unanswered, but not really because we’re left on the precipice of the amazing post-World War future. I bought a copy of this back in April of 2012, so it counts as a bonus book for my Mount TBR challenge.

Two things stood out for me in this book and those are the multitude of unique voices for the numerous characters and their point of views and the fact this was a World War II novel without the war taking the role of protagonist or overshadowing everything else.

I was, and continue to be, astounded at the number of unique voices Shaffer and Barrows included within this book. I often times harshly judge epistolary novels, especially if it’s a first novel, as they are a bit of a cop-out, but in this instance it worked perfectly. There are a few primary letter writers but overall the reader probably experiences 10-15 different unique voices through letters and they each standout. When you add in the amazing descriptions of personalities and quirks each character came to life in such a way that many authors struggle with. I fell in love with Juliet of course and Isolda made the book amazingly hilarious and I couldn’t help but want to know more about Sidney and Sophie and so many of the others you only meet briefly!

The other part I was impressed with was how the authors managed to keep World War II from completely overpowering the personalities of the characters. I in general keep away from books set in war as they are so downtrodden and the war looms over the actions and the characters in such a way that the book loses any sort of enjoyability it might have. However, this book did it in such a way that even when the atrocities of WWII are brought to Guernsey and characters share first hand what happened to them and what they know of other characters it didn’t come across as smothering or even harrowing, but more healing and rejuvenating which I think is an incredibly coup on the authors part.

I won’t talk about the plot much, but suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed it because it concerns an author writing a book who serendipitously falls in with a born-out-of necessity book group made up of a hodgepodge of the most unlikeliest of characters. It can only get better from there!

Recommendation: A DEFINITE MUST READ. I don’t really ever say everyone should read a book, but I feel that this is one of those few books that everyone should. There’s something in this book for everyone and the multitude of unique voices the two authors created in the writing of the book is amazing.

Opening Line: “Susan Scott is a wonder.”

Closing Line: “By way of congratulation, she said ‘I hear you and that pig-farmer are going to regularize your connection. Praise the Lord!” (Whited out.)

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26 thoughts on “Book 208: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows”

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it! (Not sure if you’re having this problem with anyone else, but your comment was sent to my spam? TBM is having this issue with a lot of blogs at the moment, so keep an eye out!)

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              1. It seems if you were sent to spam and I approved you, you’ve both been able to post comments without them going to Spam since! So maybe they’re starting to sort it out?

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      1. Good to know this Geoff. It’s a good example of why the title of a book is critical – it’s one (though not the only) factor in helping me decide whether to read it

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  1. Never heard of it, but I studied WWII in grad school so you have piqued my curiosity. I loved to study the every day folk and not that actual battlefield.

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    1. It was the book group darling last year or the year before last. Every book group read it and there were hundreds of used copies floating around when I finally picked up a copy. There’s a great welsh novel with an alternative WWII outcome where England, or at least Wales, is under occupation. If I can remember it I’ll let you know.

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