The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The fact that I went back and read this book for a second time is significant for me. I'm not usually a big re-reader. Though I think that is changing. I've started getting 'cravings' for good books I've read. Some stories are just magical.
Each time I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I took my time. The book is a collection of letters, and each one stands alone as something special, something to treasure. In a time of instant communication, reading a book told entirely through letters is incredibly refreshing and reminiscent of a slower (seemingly) more meaningful time. Very sentimental. While I cherished reading the letters, I mourned after I finished each one, because I knew that the book does eventually end...and while it has a complete and lovely ending, I still find myself wanting more. There were several dramatic points in the story, and 'plot twists' per-se, though I never found myself truly surprised by anything that happened (except perhaps by Isola's mysterious letters *wink*wink*)
The story captured me immediately and completely. We follow a woman of thirty-ish, Juliet Ashton, who has worked as a journalist during WWII in London. Now that the war is over, she wrote a book, and is at a loss now, of what to write for her second one. Scrambling for ideas, and feeling terribly war weary, she receives an unexpected letter in the post. The letter is from a man, Dawsey Adams, from Guernsey who has happened to end up with a book that used to be hers. He is writing explaining his love for the book and the author, asking her politely if she would be able to get him in touch with a bookstore where he may order more books by Charles Lamb. Juliet is delighted and sets to work right away, but their friendship has already started. She is intrigued by something he mentioned in his letter, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and asks how in the world something as such came about. The letters fly back and forth between Dawsey and Juliet, Juliet and her dear friend Sophie, Juliet and her publisher, Sidney, and various members of the literary society, as she becomes acquainted with them. Juliet decides she is going to write an article about the occupation of the channel islands by the German's, using her new friends in Guernsey as sources of real facts and little known events. Without realizing it at first, the letters serve as Juliet's beacon of light that help her pull out of her war weary slump. She finds herself falling in love with the people through their correspondence, and you can't help but fall for them yourself.
The author's splash vivid personalities and humorous situations against the backdrop of post WWII England. Each and every character in this book has a personal and devastating experience directly related to the horrors of the war, though they have tried desperately to bring out the best in things and keep their spirits shining brightly.
This book is about and between good friends, it makes you feel good to read it. You feel like one of them (hence the title of this post). When I finished, I almost turned to the beginning of the book to read it again. Seriously. It's been about a month since I read it (I know, it's taken me forever to get around to this review), and writing about it again makes me want to read it. It's an absolutely perfect book to read if you're feeling lonely - while you read it, I promise you won't be anymore!
This book is no-question one of my favorites. I think it is a 'modern' classic, in it's own right. Not only does it capture the mood and some lesser known events of World War II in England, it lets you in to some beautiful character's hearts and minds. I've read this book twice so far, but I'll be reading it again...and again and again.