The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Mary Ann Shaffer

the_guernsey_literary_and_potato_peel_pie_society

How could you not want to read a book with such a quirky name? I remember hearing about this book when it came out, but never got around to actually reading it. Before watching the Netflix movie, I thought I might give the book a try.

Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, who bought her copy of Charles Lamb essays, and wanted to know more about the author. He mentions that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club founded during the German occupation of Guernsey Islands during World War II. Juliet, who is looking for a subject for her new book, wants to learn more about the , and a correspondence ensues between her and Dawsey, and subsequently other members of the book club.

The book, set in 1946, is entirely in the form of letters between Juliet, her friends and the residents of Guernsey. With a light and easy style, Mary Ann Shaffer deals with some heavy subjects, such as the tribulations of the islanders during the war and the horrors of the concentration camps. Like Juliet, I too was interested in the story of the Guernsey people – the impact of World War II on countries like Poland and France is well-documented, but there were many small places, like Guernsey or San Marino, which were affected by the war as well. The epistolary nature of the novel is both expansive and limiting, giving the perspective of multiple characters who write the letters while limiting our view of their life to only the vignettes shared by them. After reading a couple of heavy books, I quite enjoyed this one, though I have a quibble against the ending: it was so abrupt that I really thought my ebook was missing a few pages.

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