I am a little late coming to the party with the “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. It was a sensation when it was released in July 2008, receiving both critical acclaim and fantastic mainstream success. Now I see why.
Writer Juliet Ashton is in a slump. After writing an uplifting column during World War II that was later turned into a book, she has success, but she is tired. The war has taken it out of everyone and destroyed her home in London. All she wants to do is write something different, something with a bit more substance, under her own name. But finding a topic for a book is a difficult undertaking and one she struggles with.
But then, out of the blue, she receives a letter from Guernsey, a tiny island in the English Channel. During the war, the island was occupied and during this time, and in order to save the skins of a bunch of residents who were illegally eating a pig, they formed the Guernsey Literary Society. One of the gentlemen came to possess an old book of Juliet’s that she had given away and he writes to ask her more about it.
And so begins a series of correspondence. Not only does Juliet come to know more about her new friend, but she starts up relationships via post to all the members of the literary society and finds the elusive subject for her next book. Eventually, she goes to the island and once there her life is transformed by the wonderful people she meets and their tales of occupation and the saving power of reading.
There is no wonder the book was received so well. Told in the form of a series of letters, it is in a word, spectacular. Not only does it explore the wonders of reading, but also the triumphs of the human spirit. The island is filled with ordinary people and yet once Juliet scratches the surface, she sees just how extraordinary they all are. I laughed out loud, I wept uncontrollably and I found myself missing my Guernsey friends when the last page was turned. If you are like me and missed out on the hoopla when this book was first released, I highly recommend you pick it up. I give it an enthusiastic five-stars.
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By: Mary Ann Saffer and Annie Barrows
Price: $15 paperback/
$10.99 Kindle and Nook