Saturday, May 3, 2014

{Book Review} The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

source: Goodreads

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

First Published: 2008

Pages: 274 (I listened to audio version)

ISBN:  978-0385340991

Dates Read: April 28- May 3, 2014

Reading Challenges this book is part of: 

- 2014 Audiobook Challenge
- 2014 British History Challenge
- 2014 European Reading Challenge 
- 2014 I Love Library Books Challenge

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Other works by this author:

This is Mary Ann Shaffer's first and only novel. She worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops and her dream was to write a book and publish it. Before she could finish this book she became very ill with cancer so she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to help her finish it. She died just a few months before her book was published.
  Further Information:

My thoughts on the book:

The synopsis really tells all you need to know about the basic plot line of the book so I won't rewrite that, besides if I talk about it too much I'll only give away things that will spoil the book if you haven't read it yet. But I could, I could talk about this book all day long with anyone that would like to because I loved it that much. I could talk about it and read it all over again.

I'm always hesitant with audiobooks but decided to give another one a try and I'm so glad I did. As it written in a series of letters between many different folks it was read by several different people and they did a fantastic job. I would even dare to say the book was made even better by listening to the letters being read to me than if I had read it myself (though I do want to go back and reread it myself too). The characters really came to life through the letters and I found myself wanting to go with Juliet to Guernsey to meet them myself.

There was something almost soothing as I listened to this book each day on the way back and forth to work. I looked forward to it every day after work even though there were parts that made me cry (several parts in fact) but there were also many that made me burst out with laughter. And I found myself torn at times between wanting them to describe more of their life during the Occupation (even though those were many times the parts that made me cry) or having them describe the things going on in the present. It also made me wish for a simpler time when people really did write letters like that to each other.

There were many passages I would have highlighted had I been reading this instead of listening to it so I'll finish off with a couple of those that I would have-

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive—all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

This book itself sparked many 'tiny things' that I will now go on to explore in other books- forced slave workers during the Occupation, more about life during the Occupation for people in other countries, and Guernsey itself. I also have added Guernsey to my ever growing list of places to visit and I must arrive by the ferry from Weymouth. It's the best way to arrive in Guernsey as Juliet was told.

“Think of it! We could have gone on longing for one another and pretending not to notice forever. This obsession with dignity can ruin your life if you let it.” 

Oh so true and glad I finally decided to heck with dignity and took a chance just like Juliet did.

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