Book Review: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer And Ann Barrows

Book: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Ann Barrows

Published July 2018 by The Dial Press|322 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction

It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

This was a book I read for school, and I liked it!  I’ve talked about this book a lot in discussion posts.

This book is told entirely through letters- we see letters from a lot of different people, though most of the letters are addressed to Juliet and are from Juliet.  I didn’t love the letters, especially at first, but overall, I liked the story.  I really liked following Juliet as she learns more about Guernsey, the literary society and and the German Occupation during World War 2.  All of the people from Guernsey seem like really interesting people, and while I wasn’t enthused with the letters, I still liked reading their letters.

It is a book about books, and that was one of my favorite things about the book.  Some of the characters love reading, while others haven’t read in years.  I just love books about people who love books, though there are a lot of other things going on.  But a love of books and reading does bring together this very strange group of people.

Getting that letter from Dawsey really changed things for Juliet.  She ends up writing the biography of the mother of the child she adopts, she ends up getting married and settles on an island that had a lot to deal with over the last few years.

I liked Juliet’s story, though.  Though we get the stories of the other characters, hers is the one that’s the main focus.  She’s an interesting one, and I wonder what’s in store for her now that she’s married.  I really want to know what she’s going to write after finishing Elizabeth’s biography, and if she’ll ever write something that’s more in the realm of fiction.  Non-fiction seems more her style but you never know.  Anything is possible.

I don’t know that I would have picked this book up on my own, and if I did, I think the letters would have been the reason I decided not to finish it.  But since it was for school, I had to finish it, and I’m glad I did.  I feel like I learned some things- I never knew Guernsey existed before this book, or that it was occupied by German soldiers.  As much as I want to say that I’m going to learn more about it, I know that I probably won’t.  Still, it is in the back of my mind in case I ever change my mind.

I will say, though, that the letters felt very real and thoughtful.  I liked seeing the characters tell their own stories, and the letters made it easy to connect to characters.  It did feel like I was the recipient of the letters, even though I really wasn’t.  In a way, it made it easy to get through, because there were a lot of points where I could easily put the book down and pick it back up.  I can’t imagine the book being told any other way, but…I just don’t know that epistolary novels are for me.

I know it’s a movie, and I’m curious to see how it translated to film as it’s told entirely in letters.  I’d imagine there’s a lot of liberties they could take with the movies, because there’s a lot they could fill in.  Maybe one of these days, I’ll watch it.

3 stars.  I liked the story but I didn’t love that it was told through letters.  Still, I enjoyed it and I think it’s worth checking out.

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