Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

guernseypotatopeelpieTitle:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors:  Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Published:  July 29, 2008

# of Pages:  288

ISBN:  978-0385340991

My Rating:  4.5/5

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.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those books which has been supremely hyped-up; everyone has read it, and 99% of them have loved it.  When I set out to read a book like this, I always feel a bit nervous because I never want to be that one dissenting voice, and at the same time if I unequivically love the book, I don’t feel very original.  But anyways, the question I asked myself when I finished this book was, does it deserve all the hype?

The short answer is yes, it definitely does.  The characters in Guernsey are beyond real; they truly come alive before the reader’s eyes.  Rarely do I read a book and find myself thinking of the characters as if they actually ARE real people, and while reading Guernsey I became so lost in the story, so lost in the characters’ lives, that I would honestly forget that the story was entirely a work of fiction.  I think there are two reasons that the characters were so realistic – the first is the fantastic writing by Barrows and Shaffer, and the second is the format of the book.  The entire book is written in letters from various characters to other various characters (the majority of them are either to or from Juliet, but a few are not).  This makes it seem like the characters are talking to the reader instead of each other, and as a reader you can really get inside their heads and understand what they are thinking and feeling.  I must admit, I was a little put off by the format of letters at first, but after the first few letters I got used to it and completely stopped thinking about it.  

It DID take me a little longer than I would have liked to get involved with the story.  The plot was just a tad too slow for my tastes in the beginning, but once Juliet started talking about actually going to the island the book really took off for me and it was at that point when I was one hundred percent involved, and felt an absolutele need to find out what would happen.  And I typically don’t believe in spoilers on my blog, so I won’t give anything away, but I do have to say that I loved, loved, LOVED the ending.  I mean, to me, it couldn’t have been more perfect.  I always remember a fantastic ending and Guernsey definitely had one.

So my conclusion is this – the book is absolutely worthy of all the praise it has been receiving.  I highly recommend this fantastic read.

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14 thoughts on “Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

  1. I totally agree that it is easy to think of these people as real. I had to stop myself from telling someone about this book as if it were non-fiction!

  2. You’re so right about hype. Rarely does a book live up to its hype, (the Twilight Saga is a perfect example) but this one certainly did. I loved it.

  3. I’ve got this one on my TBR list and am really looking forward to it. You are right and it seems like everyone has already read and enjoyed this one.

  4. I absolutely adored this book and like you, I was picturing each of these characters in my mind…I hope they DON’T do a movie because it might not be as great as my mind pictured it to be!!!
    Excellent review!

  5. This sounds like it would be a great read for a book club. I am definitely going to recommend it to mine. Thanks for the review! I was also wondering about the hype…but it sounds good.

  6. I really enjoyed this book. I’ve just finished listening to the audio book version, and I think that really adds to the story – the actors are much funnier than me!

  7. I loved this book too and was really glad that it lived up to the hype. Like you, I get nervous when I hear so many good things about the book. Thanks for the link!

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