5 days ago
Sunday, May 23, 2010
42. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
"January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name."
What I can say about this book that hasn't already been said? If you've already read it, you know what I mean when I say I absolutely loved it. If you haven't read it, please do. It was such a charming, delightful surprise. The entire story is told through a series of letters to Juliet and her answers, with a few amongst her friends thrown in. I haven't always loved the books I've read that use letters as a literary device, but in this book, it works marvelously. Each character reveals himself/herself more as the correspondence continues; and you simply fall in love with these people (with a couple of exceptions whose letters make them humorously unappealing). Not only is this a great story, but it contains so many details about the occupation of Guernsey during WWII. I had never heard about this piece of history and found the stories of deprivations and how both the English and Germans adapt to the situation fascinating. The Literary Society came into being during the occupation when a few soon-to-be members were found out after curfew. They used a literary meeting as an excuse and continued to meet thereafter. Friendships were born and reading was promoted. Juliet, who lives and writes in London, receives a letter from Dawsey who had bought a secondhand book with her name and address in it. "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." Juliet I love that thought. Maybe that's why I book mooch: sending out books that will hopefully find their perfect readers and hoping others find their way to me. The Guernsey Literary Society is one book that I will be keeping and reading again.