I had heard good things about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, but it wasn’t until my book group chose it as our next selection that I headed to the library to check it out. An enjoyably pleasant read, I have to say that it didn’t get really good until around page 200. By page 240, I couldn’t put it down.
Fictional author Juliet Ashton is the novel’s protagonist, but the points of view come from every direction as the book is framed by a chronological series of post World War II correspondence between Juliet, her editor, and the populace of the small town of St. Peter Port in England’s Channel Islands.
The plot is anchored to a character who is never actually present in the story, Elizabeth McKenna. Founder of the G.L.P.P.P.S., she has been sent to a concentration camp by the time Juliet arrives in Guernsey, but the memories of her loved ones and the artifacts she has left behind tell her story for her. Throughout the novel, images of the German occupation reveal how easily the veil of civilization is lifted during wartime.
A mix of humor and pathos, the somewhat quirky characters are believable, the setting is intriguing, and the writing has a beautifully visual quality that easily transports the reader to post-war England.
My only criticism is that at first, many of the letters sounded like they were written by the same person. I found myself having to re-read the entry titles to remind myself whose point of view it was. By the middle of the book, however, the characters had come into their own voices and the confusion waned.
I would definitely recommend reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And maybe a trip to the Channel Islands to enjoy the scenery. 😉
Layinda’s Blog Rating: ¶¶¶¶¶