Maisie Dobbs meets 84 Charing Cross Road
What a delightful read! I received the ARC this afternoon via UPS and could not put it down! The novel, set in London just after the end of WWII, centers around the islanders of Guernsey and relays their experiences during Nazi occupation, The novel unfolds solely through letters sent between Juliet (London writer of some success) and members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
What delightful characters! It makes one mourn the lost custom of corresponding via letters and wonder what source future historians will mine for their information. E-mail?
While I believe that the use of letters to unfold the story was used effectively by the authors, I felt that the first few letters could have been expanded in order to provide a little more background. However, by the end of Juliet's 1st letter (the post script to be more exact), I wanted to know more about Juliet and, by page nine, was hooked!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I could already picture the BBC or PBS adapting this book into a successful mini series. Readers would certainly welcome more time spent on the island of Guernsey.
Rated of 5
by Shirley (Batavia IL)
My highest recommendation
Having to say goodbye to the people in this book is like losing close friends. The format of a book written in letters put me off at first glance thinking characters could never be developed properly in this manner. Was I wrong, I loved this book, loved the people I met in its pages. Never a dull sequence, never without wit and reverence, one becomes kin to these people and experience the joys and sorrows along with them. The descriptive quality of the writing makes you want to visit the very island itself and to even believe you could walk up to one of the cottages and know the person living within. Each letter writer has their own impression of what is happening and each has a unique way of describing detail. I found myself dreading each turn of the page because it brought me closer to the end. Alas, it is over and I miss them already.
Rated of 5
by Cheri (Grand Rapids MN)
This is a MUST Read!!!
I have always heard of those people that read a book in two days or stayed up all night to finish a book, and I always thought what show-offs. But now I know what they mean. After receiving this book on Thursday I could not put it down. I seriously considered calling in sick to work to finish it. This book takes place after WWII with people, regular people, just trying to put their lives back together. I have read many WWII books, but this one captivated me and let me believe that it was going to be okay for all of them.... for all of them. And that my friends is how a book is supposed to make you feel. In the end you are supposed to think everything is going to be okay... even for yourself. So thank you Ms. Shaffer and Ms. Barrows for letting me think that things are going to be okay! I needed that.
Rated of 5
by Madeline (Sarasota FL)
A Love Affair...
This whole novel is a love affair of books and reading, of letters and friendship, set against the background of war and its aftermath. It is also a reminder of how perspectives change when friends and enemies are forced together by circumstance. A heartwarming, enjoyable read!
Rated of 5
by Kathy (Durham NC)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I absolutely loved this book and was so sorry when I finished it because there was no more. It is reminiscent of 84, Charing Cross Road, but to me it was even more engaging. Epistolary novels either work really well or they don't work at all and this one really works. You really feel you have gotten to know all the characters and you laugh with them and you cry with them. I can't recommend this book enough. Read it!
Rated of 5
by Judith (Ewa Beach HI)
WWII for non-history majors
Page 11: "...one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive---all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment." I can't say it better than that. This book was sheer enjoyment. People writing letters to people (before email which I admit is useful but not nearly so long-lasting.) Those who lived on Guernsey during the war telling their stories and the 'writer's' observations to her publisher. All this entwined with the daily lives of a variety of characters. I couldn't put it down....and I'm NOT a history buff. This isn't school history. This is personal and enchanting if such can be said about anyone in time of war.
Rated of 5
by Betsey (Austin TX)
Gets better and better
Initially I had difficulty engaging in this, an epistolary novel that takes place in the years following WW II. I had difficulty giving it a context. It begins at a place that feels like the middle of things (as if I missed something), but then eventually gathers the far-flung bits of fabric that make up a life and the texture of many lives.
The story is like a tapestry; it starts wit a solitary bit of material and then stitches an epic microcosm of life on the Channel Island of Geurnsey during the second World War. As the tale unfolded, I fell in love with the eccentric, rowdy, and often ribald cast of characters and my heart bled and broke more than a few times, also, over the beautiful comedy that emerged from the tragedy of war.
As I kept reading, the story strengthened and became deeper and enfolded me completely in its tale of hope in a hopeless situation and endurance in an almost unendurable time of German occupation and starvation, a story of courage, dignity and integrity in a time of moral ambiguity..
These rural characters are unsung heroes. I feel like I met each and every one of them personally and that they touched me in all the vital places where love resides. Additionally, it is a history lesson of a place that time will now not forget.
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