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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Mary Ann Shaffer | Review

“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 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 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. - Goodreads

After a weekend of reading and finishing the two books I had brought away with me (seriously, Anjali, only two!?), I was in need of another novel to pick up. Thankfully the house I was staying in was just as much a library as my own, and I was soon flicking my way through The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I recognised the title from a movie I had seen the trailer for, and thought it would be another great book to read before I saw the film. And how right I was.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a wonderful story about Juilet, the writer, who makes friends with strangers down in the Channel Islands. The story is told in letters - a format which I don't actually enjoy and the reason I didn't give this book 5 stars - as Juliet corresponds back and forth with the society, as well as her best friend Sophie, her publisher Sidney, and various other people in her life. 

When Juliet goes to Guernsey to meet the people she's only ever written to and to write her book about their society, their relationships grow, fall apart, come back together, and new ones are formed. There's a little more drama alongside the writing of her book, a few more stories to be told, a man to avoid, and a man to find.

While the letter form is not my favourite, Juliet's personality was really apparent in her writing, and I can only imagine she would speak like she writes. I really loved her as a character, and some of her expressions and sentence were gold. Here's a sample:

  • “I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with."

  • “That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” 

  • “Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.” 

The other thing I loved about this book was that it was about books. It was a story-lover, writing a book about people who made a club for reading and talking about books. Brilliant! 

The movie came out in late April, and while I haven't seen it yet, I'm so looking forward to it. It stars Lily James, Matthew Goode and Michiel Huisman, and while the trailer looked a bit different to the book, I hope it's just as good.

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Seen the movie? 

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