Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Review

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Auhtors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Rating: 5/5
Grade: C - 14 and up (for thematic elements involved in WWII)

This book begins in January of 1946, just after the end of World War II. Juliet Ashton has been a war correspondent under the name of Izzy Bickerstaff, using humor to report on the horrors she saw around her. Her columns were compiled into a book, which was doing very well. After touring the country in an exhausting book tour, she settles down to try and come up with a topic for the new book her publisher is expecting from her. But the bombed out remains of London, and all the aftermath of the war has her downspirited, and unable to think of anything suitable.

Then one day, out of the blue, she recives a letter from a man from the Island of Guernsey, who has a second hand copy of a book she had given away - and from this letter a correspondence is born. She soon learns of the literary society they had invented to keep them out of trouble with the occupying German forces, and how this society - and the books they read - helped to pull them through five years of occupation, hunger, and horrors.

This book is written entirely in letters and telegrams, not usually my favorite median, but in this case it is done with absolute perfection. Each character who writes has a distinct and original voice which is kept true throughout the book. And those characters are absolutely delightful and feel as real as anyone I have known. I think this is due in part to Juliet's introduction to them. For the first half of the book, she only knows them through letters, and you, as a reader can know them just as well as Juliet did, because you are also reading those letters. Then, by the time Juliet meetts them in person, they are already so real that you can believe you are there seeing them for the first time with her.

Even though the book describes many of the hardships and tragedies of the second world war, there is an overall lighthearted and cheerful attitude. I had known nothing of Guernsey during the war, I didn't realize that the Germans had occupied anything that close to England. The histroy was as fascinating to read as was the story.

I originally saw this book as an Early Review copy on Library Thing. Immediately, I was enthralled by the title. I knew I had to read it. But, alas, I was not chosen to review the book, and had not thought of it again untill I saw it at the library this past week. Someties titles enchant, but the book does not carry through on the promis. This is not one of those cases. I was pleasantly surprised and read the book with a huge smile, and the occasional tear.

Read this book! You will not be dissapointed. It goes to the top of my list of books read this year, and I am going to buy a copy as soon as payday comes.

To purchase this book follow this link to: Powell's Books

Where you can also read: Interview with co-author

If you have done a review of this book (or any other books I have reviewed) please feel free to leave a link to the review in your comment.


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