“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

potatopeel
asteriaiconI love me a good WWII story! I also like to try new things every now and again. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society fits the bill nicely. Guernsey is written in Epistolary format, and for those of you who are like me and had no idea what that means, it is a book written in letter format.

The story takes place in London in 1946, as the world is emerging from WWII, and people are trying to rebuild their lives in an entirely different atmosphere. Juliet Ashton is no different. She is a British journalist who wrote about the war, and articles for women in proper society. One day she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man who lives on Guernsey Island, who has found a copy of a book that Ashton has written her name and address in. Juliet responds in kind, and a friendship ensues, first with Adams, and eventually with other eccentric characters on the island.

During WWII, Guernsey Island was the only British owned island to be occupied by the Germans, and the Nazi’s left their mark. Throughout the letters, we the readers get a good sense of what life was like for these people, life full of desperation and despair. The Nazi’s took whatever they could, leaving the islands inhabitants with little, and set impossibly strict rules that no one can be expected to abide by. In fact, that is how the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came to be. One night a few people were caught by the Nazi’s for being out past curfew. You see, these people had just finished a secret meal, where they had hidden food away from the Nazi’s. They couldn’t really tell them that though when they got caught, so they made up a story about a book club meeting that had gone too late. In order to keep up the ruse, the small group of people continued to meet, inviting other friends along as well, where they began to discuss books they had read and to share what meager food they had with their friends.

Juliet continues to write back and forth to these people, making friends, and learning about life during the German occupation. Eventually she decides to go to the island, and meet these people in person, people who understand her better through letters than the people who surround her in real life.

I love love love this book. I have read it a few times, and each time it just touches my soul. I love that it is written in letters, it gives the story a more personal touch. In today’s society, we really do not write letters anymore. Everything is digital, even this review! We write emails and texts, and while it is quicker and easier, it just lacks that personal touch. I love that the author makes these characters come alive, I felt like I knew them as friends myself. And I love that the author used books as a way for Guernsey’s island inhabitants to cope with the war and what was going on around them. After all, books are magic; they can take you anywhere you want to go. And what can be better than a good book discussed among good friends with some good food?

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