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


This book has had a lot of buzz- perhaps because of its title…which is almost impossible to remember:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The novel tells the story of writer Juliet Ashton, who is something of a minor celebrity in post World War Two.  A chance letter from the British Island of Guernsey changes her life.

The novel consists entirely of letters and cables sent back and forth between various characters: Juliet and her publisher, Sidney; Juliet and her best friend (and Sidney’s sister) Sophie and then Juliet and various members of this oddly named literary society. The second part of the novel finds Juliet on the island meeting with the people who will ultimately change her life.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a simple, pleasant novel- the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter afternoon, cup of tea in hand. That said, it lacked a certain something. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the book wasn’t finished by the person who started it: Mary Ann Shaffer passed away before the novel’s completion and was finished by her niece Annie Barrows (writer of the children’s series Ivy and Bean).  I felt somehow let down by the novel’s denouement- it felt rushed and one section,  so-called “Detection Notes”, takes the place of the back and forth correspondence between the characters. It felt a bit like a cheat to me, especially as it reveals too much about two characters, thus allowing everything to be tied up in a neat bow.

The most compelling bits of the story, for me, were about the Nazi occupation on Guernsey and I was aching to know more about Elizabeth; she was, by far, the most compelling character.

Still, you could do a lot worse than this book.

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