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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Paperback – May 5, 2009
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“I can’t remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one, a world so vivid that I kept forgetting this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren’t my actual friends and neighbors. Treat yourself to this book please—I can’t recommend it highly enough.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“Traditional without seeming stale, and romantic without being naive . . . It’s tempting to throw around terms like ‘gem’ when reading a book like this. But Guernsey is not precious. . . . This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It’s as charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love.”—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“[The] characters step from the past radiant with eccentricity and kindly humour. [The] writing, with its delicately offbeat, self-deprecating stylishness, is exquisitely turned.”—The Guardian (U.K.)
“I’ve never wanted to join a club so desperately as I did while reading Guernsey. . . . [The novel] is a labor of love and it shows on almost every page.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“I could not put the book down. I have recommended it to all my friends.”—Newsday
“A jewel . . . Poignant and keenly observed, Guernsey is a small masterpiece about love, war, and the immeasurable sustenance to be found in good books and good friends.”—People
“A book-lover's delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“A sparkling epistolary novel radiating wit, lightly worn erudition and written with great assurance and aplomb.”—The Sunday Times (London)
“Cooked perfectly à point: subtle and elegant in flavour, yet emotionally satisfying to the finish.”—The Times (London)
“A sweet, sentimental paean to books and those who love them. . . . It affirms the power of books to nourish people enduring hard times.”—The Washington Post Book World
“[A] marvelous debut . . . This is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word.”—Library Journal
“A poignant, funny novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. . . . A treat.”—The Boston Globe
“A sure winner.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Delightful . . . One of those joyful books that celebrates how reading brings people together.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book— part Jane Austen, part history lesson. The letters aren't addressed to you, but they are meant for you. It's a book everyone should read. An absolute treasure.”—Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells
About the Author
Mary Ann Shaffer who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.
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Pigs end up playing a major role in this wonderful little book when the author connects with some villagers on Guernsey Island, who have recently emerged from German occupation during World War II. She learns how they outsmarted the Germans, who were fussy over farm animals, according to one explanation of how The Guernsey Literary Society came about in the first place. Spoiler alert: it was because of pigs.
Their mischievous pig roast compelled them to keep up appearances as the literary society they indeed were not. Yet, as one of the inciters of the pig roast writes, “Once two members read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight.” Their original naughtiness eventually morphed into a sweet band of friends who “read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another.”
The characters are vivid and easy to love, like the characters in Foyle’s War and 84 Charring Cross Road, carrying on despite the undertow of war rumbling beneath them. The writing delighted me, because so much of it made the familiar, ordinary things of life fresh and beautiful and fun (like when the author confesses really like to leave London to live on Guernsey instead). She writes, “The only thing I’d truly miss about London are Sidney and Susan, the nearness to Scotland, new plays, and Harrods Food Hall.” Refreshing: a little bit naughty, a little bit spice. My favorite line in the whole book is her contention that, “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”
I consider it a compliment to say that this was such a good book, it may have ruined me for whatever one’s next!
Lucky me, I got to read it while visiting Guernsey!
Was this book worth the Kindle Price? $8.63 USD. Yup, absolutely!
Is it a page turner? Yes.
Did I want to be reading this book when I wasn't reading this book? Yes.
Did I learn anything from this book?
Yes, loved all the information so subtly provided about the German occupation. It's like a history book without the boring bits.
Did I think about this book after I was finished reading.
Yes, it has stayed with me. It's been a month since I put it down but I still do think of it. Luckily, I was able to get a fridge magnet of the book cover while in Guernsey.
My only negative comment - now this may sound petty as I really did enjoy all the books and all the characters! But I did notice they all have the same voice. We don't all write letters in the same style and this was not reflected in the book. All the letters were written in the same particular witty style. Made for good fun reading but I did find that a bit strange as like I said, we do all write differently!
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" is a book that took me by surprise. Being an epistolary novel, I wasn't expecting an abundance of detail or character development. I suppose I was expecting a chatty and carefree book that just skimmed over the tops of things. It was chatty and it was carefree in parts, but oh, it was so much more.
The characters didn't just write letters that barely touched on their experiences during the German Occupation (in Guernsey), what had happened during the war in London or with what was going on in their current lives. They delved right in and gave a tremendous amount of details. Some stories made you laugh out loud, some made you furious or shocked and some even brought you to tears. I think what touched me the most is that these types of stories really DID occur during WW2. They aren't far-fetched situations that would never have happened - they DID happen. THAT'S what brought me to tears on more than one occasion.
There is just so much that I could say about this book. Lol I don't even know how to express properly how awesome I truly thought it was. It is a multi-faceted gem that I am thrilled that I FINALLY discovered.