The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE ON NETFLIX - A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name. "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging fro...

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Title:The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author:Mary Ann Shaffer
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Reviews

  • Linda Sexauer

    Several years ago, I worked at an art gallery here in Anchorage. Though I loved the art, I wasn’t much good at selling it. More often than not, I just chatted up the customers, who were from all over the world.

    One night, four elderly people wandered in. They told me they were from a tiny island off the coast of southern England called “Guernsey”. I’d never heard of it, so they proudly explained it was the only part of British soil that had been occupied by the Nazis during World War II. The isla

    Several years ago, I worked at an art gallery here in Anchorage. Though I loved the art, I wasn’t much good at selling it. More often than not, I just chatted up the customers, who were from all over the world.

    One night, four elderly people wandered in. They told me they were from a tiny island off the coast of southern England called “Guernsey”. I’d never heard of it, so they proudly explained it was the only part of British soil that had been occupied by the Nazis during World War II. The island was occupied for a long five years; an experience to which they had all been witnesses. At that moment, Guernsey was marked in my mind.

    Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow’s new book, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is an opportunity to travel back in time to 1946 Guernsey.

    Beginning early 1946 in London, Juliet Ashton, a British writer, and former war journalist, is emerging from the ashes of the war to rebuild her life and her identity. She has lost her home and all her possessions, most regrettably her book collection. Out of the blue, she responds to correspondence started by a resident of Guernsey, who has managed to obtain a second-hand book once owned by Juliet, in which she had long ago written her name and address. Through this initial contact, Juliet meets an entire community, and the course of her life is redirected.

    Easily reminiscent of Helene Hanff’s epistolary classic, “84 Charing Cross Road”, the novel is written in the epistolary style. Shaffer and Barrow skillfully use this medium to successfully establish their characters and a solid storyline.

    Charming, funny, sweet, and thoughtful, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is a story that women might find more appealing than men. Yet, it is unflinching in its wartime recollections. The deprivations and devastation of the time are imaginatively and convincingly conveyed.

    At its core, this is a book about the love of reading, and the magic of books.

    I highly, highly recommend “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”.

  • Will Byrnes

    Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer - image from from chrestomanci.over-blog.com - Schaffer wrote most of the book, but was terminally ill so called in her niece, Barrows, to help her complete it.

    The GL&PPPS tells of Nazi occupation of this Channel Island during WW II. The story is told via a series of letters exchanged between residents of the island and a writer attempting to learn about their experiences. We are offered a wide range of characters, some warm and charming, some extremist bu

    Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer - image from from chrestomanci.over-blog.com - Schaffer wrote most of the book, but was terminally ill so called in her niece, Barrows, to help her complete it.

    The GL&PPPS tells of Nazi occupation of this Channel Island during WW II. The story is told via a series of letters exchanged between residents of the island and a writer attempting to learn about their experiences. We are offered a wide range of characters, some warm and charming, some extremist buffoons, some heroic, some not so heroic. The core of the story is Elizabeth, a particularly brave and wonderful individual. She is the emotional heart of the tale, as the many characters all have some experience that relates to her. Another important aspect is how all the characters relate around literature.

    From the film - image from Amazon

    Shaffer offers us a charming and wide-ranging palette of humanity trying their best to cope under very trying circumstances. As someone who knew very little about the occupation of the Channel Islands, I found it educational as well as a fun read. It reminds one of Alexander McCall Smith, not, clearly, for the specifics of the location, but for the warmth of the authorial tone. The writers clearly care about their characters and this place the way that Smith hovers lovingly over his imagined Botswana. Sit back and enjoy. This is a delightful, informative, and satisfying read that celebrates the impact of reading on people’s lives.

    From the film - image from Amazon

    The film is available on Netflix.

  • Zoë

    Although the abrupt ending frustrated me, the rest of the book was so soothing. This is probably due to the fact it was written in letters to loved ones and not the subject matter itself, as it focuses heavily on the atrocities of WWII. Also, it's a

    ! Nothing makes me happier than reading a book about why reading is wonderful.

    I read this because I watched and loved the Netflix adaptation (yes, I'm that monster who sometimes watches adaptations before reading the source material).

    Although the abrupt ending frustrated me, the rest of the book was so soothing. This is probably due to the fact it was written in letters to loved ones and not the subject matter itself, as it focuses heavily on the atrocities of WWII. Also, it's a

    ! Nothing makes me happier than reading a book about why reading is wonderful.

    I read this because I watched and loved the Netflix adaptation (yes, I'm that monster who sometimes watches adaptations before reading the source material). I think I may have liked the movie slightly more, not that this was bad or anything. So if you liked the book, I recommend the movie and vice versa!

  • Melissa

    Believe it or not—as shallow as this may sound—the stunning movie tie-in cover was the catalyst, goading me to take a hard look and commit to a book that’s done little more than float along my periphery for years.

    What do you get when you combine a roast pig dinner, an unavoidable lie and the most unappetizing pie? A mouthful:

    Believe it or not—as shallow as this may sound—the stunning movie tie-in cover was the catalyst, goading me to take a hard look and commit to a book that’s done little more than float along my periphery for years.

    What do you get when you combine a roast pig dinner, an unavoidable lie and the most unappetizing pie? A mouthful:

    .

    Born from the quick thinking of a woman caught out after curfew and continued initially to thwart suspicion from the German occupation,

    took on a life of its own, becoming a salvation to the people of the small channel island during WWII. Providing hope, friendship and for some, a new-found love for books.

    An epistolary novel (

    ),

    picks up post-war, in 1946, relaying bits and pieces from the lives of what can only be described as a witty cast. There’s 30-something Juliet, a writer in London, fresh off a book tour and searching for that spark of an idea; something to obliterate her writer’s block. The bulk of the story is carried by Juliet, sharing her humor and reverie with childhood friends and the people she comes to care for in Guernsey.

    One of Juliet’s previously owned books, marked with her address, lands a letter from Dawsey Adams in her mailbox. In a twist of fate, that very book found its way from London to Guernsey, becoming a treasured tome to the new owner. Juliet and Dawsey’s exchanged thoughts spur a letter writing campaign of sorts. With their words and stories of survival, the people of Guernsey lure Juliet to their picturesque island.

    This is not what I would consider a literary tour-de-force by any means; especially where WWII fiction is concerned. It’s often predictable and even a bit silly, in some respects, but it’s a change of pace in a space that’s naturally filled with heavy reads. Like Juliet, I found myself smitten with the people of Guernsey—one of my favorite letters penned by a reluctant society attendee, turned full-fledged poetry reader, all to impress the woman who eventually becomes his wife.

    The back half of the story is much less compelling than the first. With Juliet on the island, the variety of voices from Guernsey are lost, and for some reason, so is her enchanting nature. For me, the story went from colorful to drab, finishing with an untimely and honestly, unfounded question. To be fair, this is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to loves stories, so take my thoughts for what they are—the ramblings of a self-proclaimed picky reader.

    With that said, there is something all too charming about a book that pays homage to the written word—highlighting the fact that even in some of the bleakest moments, books wield the power to bring people together.

  • Megha

    Dear Mary Ann Shaffer,

    I recently read your book 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society'. It brought a few questions to my mind.

    Juliet writes in one of her letters:

    Didn't Sidney know what present he had sent?

    If you had to resort to sentences like these to speak what you wanted to, didn't you realize that the letter format and your writing didn't go well together?

    Learning from your bad exam

    Dear Mary Ann Shaffer,

    I recently read your book 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society'. It brought a few questions to my mind.

    Juliet writes in one of her letters:

    Didn't Sidney know what present he had sent?

    If you had to resort to sentences like these to speak what you wanted to, didn't you realize that the letter format and your writing didn't go well together?

    Learning from your bad example, I will quit trying to be fancy, stop this letter here and write a regular review.

    A Reader.

    ** Spoiler Alert **

    Novel written in epistolary format. Set in post WWII England.1946.

    Juliet is a 30-something writer living in London. (She is like this perfect human being who is universally loved. The only people who dislike even the smallest thing about her are the evil people). One day she receives a letter from a man living on Guernsey islands who found her address on a second hand book he had. Soon Juliet is exchanging letters with the members of Guernsey literary society and people talk about what books they like and why. Then suddenly everyone forgets about the books and Guernsey people start sharing their most intimate experiences from the time during the world war with Juliet, who is only a stranger. A few weeks later Juliet goes to the Guernsey islands to meet and interview these people. Of course everyone there just loves her (except the evil woman). She stays there for a few months and decides to adopt a four year old orphan girl she met there. The girl of course loves Juliet more than the people who have raised her. And then Juliet marries a pig farmer and settles down on the Guernsey islands.

    So much for the

    plot. (I should have just known better, just look at the cheesy title.)

    It shouldn't be difficult for a decent writer to develop good characters when using a letter format, since each character gets his/her own voice. However, all the characters in this book seem to talk in exactly the same manner. Be it an accomplished writer from the city of London or farmers from a remote island, their letters sound just the same. Irrespective of whether the letters are being written to a close friend or to a complete stranger. Almost all of the characters have only a single trait. For some of the characters I can't recall even a single distinct characteristic.

    Mary Ann tries to have everything in one book. She has grazed the surface of numerous topics like books, world war, art, nature love, bucolic life, friendship, love, homosexuality, religion and so on. None of these get more than a superficial treatment. Stories about Nazi occupation of Guernsey don't tell you anything

    about the war. They just revolve around this saint of a woman who died during the war while trying to show-off her heroism. To add to this drama, halfway through the book Mary Ann shifted the focus to Juliet trying to decide between different love interests (too many people love her, you know). Why is this book being marketed a historical novel?

    Another one of those recent successful books that everyone is raving about. I don't get it.

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