Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Friday, April 20, 2012
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
I had a listen to the audiobook of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and I'm so happy to have experienced this book as a spoken performance. The audio production (published by Random House on 7 audio discs) features five different narrators all speaking each part. This added to the charm of the story, which was set after World War II in London. The story unfolds as a series of letters. It begins with writer Juliet Ashton who has enjoyed some success with a column that she penned during the war entitled "Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War". She is on a book tour and is corresponding with her publisher, who is also a dear friend, and her best friend, who is his sister. She also writes to her publicist and soon enough to a resident of Guernsey Island. This is a man named Dawsey Adams who found her name in a book by Charles Lamb, who is his most favorite author. Juliet is intrigued and so begins the correspondence between herself and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, of which Dawsey Adams is a member.
As the letters progress you learn how the society was formed, which is bittersweet as it occurred during the war, an especially difficult time for the residents of Guernsey. One Elizabeth McKenna had a lot to do with forming the society and her story is woven into the letters, which eventually give Juliet the subject for her next project. She becomes so embroiled in the lives of the Guernsey society that she ends up on the island herself, despite a persistent suitor (who is a rich business man) and her life and friends in London. The cast of characters is really marvelous as each has their own quirks and beliefs, but they all come together anyways to hold their Potato Peel Society meetings. Juliet becomes an "honorary" member and her writing project takes on a life of its own, and really, her life becomes a part of the Guernsey story which comes to involve romance, an orphaned child, a jilted lover, and an enchanting island that is regaining what it lost during the war.
I'm so happy to hear that the movie was optioned as a film and so far it looks like Kate Winslet may be playing the part of Juliet, which I can totally picture (filming was delayed to 2013). I highly recommend this book for anyone that enjoys historical fiction. The format of letters may not be best suited for reading for some, but I would recommend listening to the audio version as it was truly divine.
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