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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel Hardcover – July 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers. (Aug.)
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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
Top customer reviews
I had forgotten what huge fan I was of epistolary novels, until diving into this book. The writing used immediately brought back memories of a few of my favorite childhood reads. It took little effort before I became utterly captivated by this page turner.
The authors ability to verbally paint the characters left me imagining distinct voices for each of them. This read felt as though I was watching a play, as the story unfolded one page at time. However, consider yourself warned, this book caused a few late nights and very rough mornings because I was incapable of putting it down.
I agree with a few of the other reviews, I wanted this story to be longer. Following this book I had an extremely difficult time finding another that I could really dive into because I NEEDED more from Mary Ann Shaffer. Her touching story about a community coming together during dark times took me on a roller coaster of emotions and will be at the top of my list of recommended reads for anyone who likes historical fiction and enjoys epistolary novels such as the 'Dear America' series by Ellen Emerson White.
I rarely write reviews and I was not compensated in any way, shape, or form to do so, which I hope speaks volumes of my sincere fondness for this book.
A more eclectic group of people would be hard to find, but they fit together in support of each other in war and afterwards, and it is through the love of books and solid friendship that they survive with their world intact. I fell in love with each and every character through the letters that they wrote. And each time I revisit Guernsey, I fall in love again.....
Personally, I was made gently but vividly and memorably more aware of what happens to people in times of war.
All the while I was captivated by the wonderful variety of stories told and personalities revealed. It is one of my favorite books of all, along with, among others, Heidi, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache books.