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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel Hardcover – Unabridged, July 29, 2008
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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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
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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.
Authors Mary Ann Shaffer (no relation, and a different spelling) and Annie Barrows used letters, telegrams, and several diary entries from on-stage and several off-stage characters to tell a story that shifts its tone in a pleasing kaleidoscopic manner. Much of the story is light, breezy, fun, and poignant, but there are some segments that take you briefly into dark places—they’re necessary for the story to be as whole and based on fact as it is.
The authors did a tremendous amount of research in order to turn post-war-torn London and the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands into such an engaging experience for readers, and with settings you see clearly in your mind. You get a sense of what people who lived in both places at the time went through before, during, and after the war, and this is wrapped within luscious layers of the main character’s experiences. Main character, Juliet Ashton, is a writer with a personality that can make readers wish they knew her, or were like her. And who wouldn’t want to have friends in their life like those she made in Guernsey.
Within the story, the authors threw in some turns of phrases that are true jewels. No matter how many times I’ve read this book, when I reach the phrases I refer to, I still have to pause and appreciate them or laugh out loud, depending on the phrase. As a book editor, nothing pleases me more than a story told well and a truly clever use of words. This book accomplishes this from the first word to the last. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do.