It’s official… I’ve finished one of the books on the list! And it turned out to be the perfect book to kick off this project for this is a blog that talks about books in honor of a woman who loved to talk about books and this is a book about people who love to talk about books. Follow all that? Good.
But the people in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society didn’t always love to talk about books. They started a literary society during the German Occupation as a cover up for an illicit meal they’d managed to put together. In order to keep up the facade, the quirky members of the group kept reading and meeting in case a German soldier ever showed up to test their story. When one of the members finds a book with author Juliet Ashton’s name in it, he writes her a letter and thus begins Juliet’s fascination with the society, Guernsey and all of the people involved.
The book is a series of letters between Juliet and the people of the literary society, Juliet and her publisher, and Juliet and her friends. The format makes for a fast and easy read, but also lets the characters shine through. While I grew attached to many of them, it was Juliet’s voice that kept me hooked. Her letters tie the whole story together and do so quite well, by mixing insightful commentary with a quick wit and engaging personality. While I’m not usually one for historical novels (and neither was my mom), this approach gave a different picture of the suffering that went on during World War II and what it was like to emerge from those tragic days. It is a testament to authors Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows that even with this gloomy backdrop, the novel could be so entertaining and refreshing.
(As a disclaimer, I must admit you’ll have to bear with me, I’m new to the book review game. By the end of this project, though, I expect to be an expert highly sought after by The New York Times.)
*On a side note about the book, I just read that Mary Ann Shaffer died in February 2008 while working on the manuscript with her niece Annie Barrows. After Shaffer passed away, Barrows completed the book and brought their vision to life. On a much smaller scale, I like to think I’m doing something similar… working on a passion of my mom’s that she no longer can.