What We’re Reading Wednesday – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

WWRWI’m delving back a bit for this post and featuring a book I read several years ago for my book club, but recently re-read because…IT’S THAT WONDERFUL. Did you get that?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published in 2008 and was a #1 NY Times Bestseller. Mary Ann Shaffer, the author, died before it was published and her niece, Annie Barrows finished the book. Perhaps many of you have read this wonderful gem of a book, but if you haven’t, go do it and come back and thank me. (And you will!)

Here’s a blurb from Amazon:

“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.”

Let me start by saying this book would be on my keeper shelf, but every time I buy a copy, I end up giving it away because I want someone else to experience its charm. Now it’s on my e-reader, and none of you can have it (nana-nana-boo-boo-pfffft!).

The story unfolds entirely in letters. And, not just between our heroine and hero (yes, there is a wonderful romance in there), but between our heroine and several inhabitants of the Guernsey Islands. In fact, I would say the love story is more than just between Juliet and her hero, but between Juliet and the entire island of Guernsey.

History buffs might know that the Guernsey Islands reside in the English Channel and were occupied by the Germans for most of WWII. I was surprised to learn this. The Germans believed Guernsey would be a staging point for their eventual invasion into England herself. It wasn’t. In fact, by D-Day, the island was cut off from German supply boats and Churchill refused to send food fearing the German soldiers would abscond with it all. The result was starvation all the way around.

One of the reasons I love this book is because it employs a variety of voices. At least ten different characters take voice through the letters, and they are all unique and fascinating. Juliet is a writer who had success writing satire during the war, but is on a search for a more meaningful subject. The first time I read this book, I was not yet an author myself. The second time I was and boy, I identified with Juliet even more.

I could imagine hugging this book to my chest and cuddling it to sleep…that’s how much I love this book. Have I sold you yet?

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