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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Annie Barrows , Mary Ann Shaffer
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,006 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $7.01 (47%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


“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—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—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.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Shaffer's debut novel, written with her niece Barrow, is an original account of one writer's relationship with a member of a unique book club formed as an alibi to protect its members from arrest at the hands of the Nazis during WWII. With a small cast of gifted narrators including Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerdan, John Lee, Rosalyn Landor and the enjoyable Juliet Mills, this production is first-class from top to bottom. The narrators' British dialects, each quite regional and equally as different as they are ear-pleasing, serve the story well and allow Shaffer's words to leap from the page into the hearts and minds of her listeners. The final result is an almost theatrical experience with a plethora of enthusiastic performances. A Dial Press hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 21).(July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

“Traditional without seeming stale, and romantic without being naïve” (San Francisco Chronicle), this epistolary novel, based on Mary Ann Shaffer’s painstaking, lifelong research, is a homage to booklovers and a nostalgic portrayal of an era. As her quirky, loveable characters cite the works of Shakespeare, Austen, and the Brontës, Shaffer subtly weaves those writers’ themes into her own narrative. However, it is the tragic stories of life under Nazi occupation that animate the novel and give it its urgency; furthermore, the novel explores the darker side of human nature without becoming maudlin. The Rocky Mountain News criticized the novel’s lighthearted tone and characterizations, but most critics agreed that, with its humor and optimism, Guernsey “affirms the power of books to nourish people during hard times” (Washington Post).
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Product Details

  • File Size: 1671 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0440297001
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (July 29, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015DWJX2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,786 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,496 of 1,535 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Delight! July 25, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a wonderful book! Having just finished this one, I am still smiling and thinking of the characters. Had I the time and money, I'd be booking a trip for Guernsey right this minute. As it is, I feel as though I've already visited and been made to feel at home.

Set in both London and Guernsey Island, this novel follows author Juliet as she becomes friends with the inhabitants of the island shortly after the end of World War 2. Told in epistolary style, Juliet learns of the occupied island and its deprivations, as well as the resounding spirit of the people who live there. As she writes, she becomes more and more intrigued with the stories of the people who survived the hard times, and she decides to create a book based on their experiences. In order to gather more information, Juliet moves temporarily to the island and soon finds herself immsersed in the culture and relationships.

This is absolutely one of the most delightful books I've read all year. The characters are real, the relationships are unique, and Juliet is hysterically funny, as well as warm hearted and genuine. I did have a bit of trouble keeping all the characters straight in the beginning, but once I caught on, I was enthralled. The pages just fly by and while you will learn a little of what happened to Guernsey during World War 2, you will learn much more about love and friendship. Highly recommended!
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425 of 435 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Lovers Of Literature And Life July 21, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wasn't that eager to read this lovely book. The title sounded silly and I've read a few other books that were told entirely in the form of notes or letters like this one and I wasn't too impressed. And an aunt and her niece authoring a book together? I couldn't imagine it. Yet, miraculously, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY manages to offer wonderful well rounded characters, a genuine sense of historic time and geographic place, some real inspiring stories of courage under hardship during World War II and a sweet if rather predictable love story.

The book takes place in England during the mid 1940's when the country was recovering from the effects of the long war years. The central character of the novel is Juliet, a thirty something single Londoner who has had some success writing a humorous newspaper column and is now looking for a book subject. Through chance and a mutual love of the power of literature Juliet begins corresponding with a group of diverse people on the British island of Guernsey who used books and the fellowship they found discussing them to help them get through the hideous occupation of their island by the Germans. The authors do a wonderful job giving unique voice and style to each of the letter writers (maybe having two authors really helped in this case) long before Juliet meets her new friends face to face. In the second half of the book, also written in letter form, Juliet is on Guernsey herself and this part of the book is not quite as strong as the beginning as the plot settles in to more of a traditional love story form and the literature themes are somewhat lessened. Still,through its final page, this is an original and entertaining book.
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285 of 298 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful July 25, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
During World War II, the Germans occupied Guernsey in the Channel Islands, so close to France that, apparently, you could see cars on the highway on a clear day. The Germans built heavy fortifications against the islanders, built a concentration camp on Guernsey, and Guernsey's children were evacuated to England.

Juliet Ashton is an author looking for her next great idea, when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, who lives on Guernsey, about Charles Lamb, to whose works we was introduced through the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The Society came to be in an unusual fashion: one evening after curfew, on their way home, some of its members were stopped by German soldiers, and Elizabeth McKenna had to make something up on the spot. Over time, the members got together whenever they could to talk about what they'd read. That's how Isola, for example, became addicted to Wuthering Heights.

Juliet lives in a London that was decimated by war; her apartment by the Thames has been lost, as well as all of her books (as you can imagine, horrifying). But her career as a writer is going well, and she has a potential love interest: the handsome and rich Mark. But Juliet's life changes as she receives more and more letters from the Guernsey Islanders, and she decides that she just might have to pay them a visit

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an utterly charming novel, written in an epistolary fashion, between not only Julia and her new friends, but her best friend from childhood and her brother (who also happens to be Juliet's publisher). It's a sweet, funny novel, and it reminds me a lot of
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576 of 626 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A delightful bit of fluff August 7, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is so much to like about this book that I almost feel guilty for only giving it three stars. The book consists of a series of letters written during the post-World War II years from and to Juliet, a London-based writer, Juliet's publisher, Sidney, Juliet's friends, Juliet's suitor, and a group of residents of Guernsey (in the Channel Islands) who formed a book club of sorts during the German occupation of the island. In the course of their correspondence, Juliet develops a friendship with the members of the unfortunately named Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while discovering what their lives were like during the German occupation. The writing is beautiful and by the end of the book you feel like you know all of the characters extremely well -- especially the simple country folk of Guernsey who discover the magic of books while trying to survive the depredations of wartime. So what's the problem?

The authors obviously have a knowledge and love of great literature, but their loving description of so many classic and wonderful books and authors can't help but remind the reader of the elements that are missing here. The characters in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society are so unfailingly good and lovable that they ultimately don't seem real. There's a token curmudgeon and, of course, there are the Nazis, but it's all a bit WWII lite. I kept waiting for some depth or nuance, some real sense of wonder or horror, or just a new perspective, but nothing really develops. It's a sweet little story and I liked the book, but I doubt it will stay with me very long. It's enjoyable, well-intentioned and commendable, but ultimately, like the potato peel pie of the title, made with love but not truly satisfying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written with fully realized characters
Wonderfully written with fully realized characters, this book, written in letters from several characters to others, is one of the books I plan to read again and again. Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Ruth B. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
This book was one I couldn't put down yet didn't want it to ever end! The people were alive to he....
Published 8 hours ago by Carol Lang
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Quick Read
This book was so fun and quick to read. The characters were so love able and relate-able. A must read for anyone interested in German occupation
Published 1 day ago by alex jordahl
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
Charming. This tale had historical context mixed with wonderfully drawn real people. I was sad to see it end.
Published 1 day ago by N. Pope
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read
Fun read cleverly strewn together as a series of letters. Enjoyed the historical perspectives as well as the love story.
Published 1 day ago by KG West
5.0 out of 5 stars and enjoy it! I related to Juliet and some of ...
When I started reading this book I didn't know what to expect. I was a bit surprised when I realized its written as letters between the characters. Read more
Published 3 days ago by KCS
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Historic novel with a personal view
Published 3 days ago by Carol & Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars On my "favorites" bookshelf
Superb story, great characterization, leavened with humor. written as a series of letters, similar to the style of "daddy-long-legs." HIGHLY recommend.
Published 4 days ago by PJ
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read.
A fun read. Interesting way to write a story.
Published 4 days ago by Marcie Swank
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is an amazing book--my favourite book for the last decade!
Published 4 days ago by blue jay
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Books relating to the Channel Islands
I recently read an Elizabeth George mystery novel that takes place on Guernsey. It's titled a Place of Hiding, and I read it because it because 1) I enjoy most Elizabeth George mysteries, and 2) because it took place on Guernsey.
May 26, 2009 by Amazon Customer |  See all 8 posts
Love Guernsey, love The Book Thief; pls recommend others
You might enjoy 'The Little Book' by Selden Edwards. It covers a much longer period than just WWII, but is the type of book you might enjoy given the two you have named. 'Those Who Save Us' by Jenna Blum is a must-read, as is Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' (skip the movie). 'My French Whore' by... Read More
Apr 28, 2009 by Mr. B. J. Myers |  See all 46 posts
Potato Peel Pie Recipe? ? ?
Here's some links I've found of Potato Peel Pies recipes that people have created themselves- Some seem pretty good!!!
Jun 8, 2009 by Bethany Morse |  See all 8 posts
WWII History of Channel Islands
Yes! I read The Model Occupation by Madeleine Bunting and loved it. It is non-fiction and covers the Channel Islands under German occupation from 1940-45. Don't miss it.
Sep 14, 2009 by Judith H. Scott |  See all 2 posts
similar book published in 1960s???
This sounds like Appointment with Venus by Jerrard Tickell.
Feb 6, 2015 by Sun Daughter Press |  See all 2 posts
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