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.
(Story synopsis from goodreads.com)
Oh, the art of letter writing! How did we ever let such a beautiful form of expression escape us? (Yes, I realize the irony that I am posing that question as I write this in an electronic format.) But I must truly applaud Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows for giving us an amazing piece of literature in this form. After reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I do not think this novel could have been written any other way.
I simply could not put this novel down as I became more and more attached to the characters and finding out more about their lives. I could not wait to read the next letter, much like Juliet. The letters were so full of description and emotion, that I truly felt that I was seeing the island and meeting the people. Letters were such an amazing way to have people connect with your life even if they were half a continent, or half a world, away from you.
As I mentioned in my “Currently Reading” and “I’m in Love” posts about this novel (which you can read here and here), this book pulled me in right away and spoke to my literary soul. As much as I loved reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and could not stop reading it, I also did not want it to end because that meant I would have to say good-bye to the characters and their stories.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society spoke to not only my literary soul, but that part of me that also loves historical fiction. (I think this book actually had everything for me!). It was fascinating to read a historical fiction book that actually takes place AFTER World War II, instead of the characters living through the event as it happens. After Juliet had earned the trust and told the story of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, she realized that the idea for her next book had been right in front of her through all of that. She knew that there were so many stories that hadn’t been told from the war, and they were all coming from Guernsey. Through the help of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (her new friends), she began gathering stories of the different people around the island.
However, Juliet is able to find so much more on the island of Guernsey…more than she ever thought possible in a simple trip to meet the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
As I wrote earlier, I was sad to reach the end of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but then I continued to read the “Afterword” which was written by Annie Barrows. (This is something I typically don’t do, but that’s how much I really did not want this book to end.) It was in the Afterword that Barrows wrote these words that spoke directly to the way I was feeling:
The good news is that as long as we don’t get too caught up in the space-time continuum, the book does still go on, every time a reader talks about it with another reader.
So please, my dear readers, share your thoughts…your likes your dislikes…about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society so that I can keep living in this world because I don’t want it to end.
One last final thought from Annie Barrows before I leave you for now:
The wonderful thing about books…is that they take us out of our time and place and understanding, and transport us not just into the world of story, but into the world of our fellow readers, who have stories of their own.