The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Marry Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, was first published in 2008.
It’s 1946 and 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 German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.”
My Favourite The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Quotes:
- “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”
- “Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.”
- “…what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone.”
- “The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot.”
- “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.”
I came across this book during the New Delhi World Book Fair 2018. If I am being honest the title, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, made me curious about the book’s content. The first question that popped into my head was, “What does pie have anything to do with a literary society?” followed by “What is a potato peel pie?”. (Ever the hungry Bibliophile.) So I read the blurb to finally make a decision.
The romance of an epistolary format of writing did me in. I have always been a sucker for letters being used to unfold the story bit by bit, revealing new characters letter by letter. The authors have done a great job at maintaining the interest of the reader even in this format while doing justice to the plotline. This format gives you an engaging insight of the life and time of the people living in a post-war state.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set in 1946, only a year after the end of the second world war and follows the protagonist, Juliet, on her journey as an author in search of a story as well as her exploration of the once German-occupied Guernsey. The themes of war, survival, and perseverance have been explored in the same breath as the themes of an author’s search for a story, the love of reading and self-discovery. Some of the most beautiful lines in the novel come from Juliet when she is discussing literature with others.
The language of the book is simple and straightforward, and anyone who loves reading will be able to relate to Juliet’s love for her books and how her books are more important to her that some people. Interestingly, books are also why she meets some significant characters in the story.
However, the one thing that put me off was how the East India Company was mentioned in passing, it would have made a great segue. As a reader, it would have made more sense to me if the author had drawn parallels between the colonization of India with the occupation of Guernsey, and there are plenty to be made. It would have added another perspective to the fold. Or the company should not have been mentioned at all, it was not necessary to the plot in any manner.
But overall, the book makes for a wonderful read. Now more than ever, I can relate to the protagonist’s need for travelling, for curiosity for the world and search for her story. Of course, what I love the most is that it as a love for reading that made Dawsey began to correspond with Juliet in the first place.
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