Helen (Sun City AZ)
Saving Power of the Literary Society
After I read the series of letters exchanged by Juliet Ashton (a London author), her publisher, her friends, and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I wanted to know each person better. I particularly liked the way the authors of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society succeeded in giving each correspondent a distinct and identifiable voice. Through their letters, I saw their kind, caring natures (as well as their foibles and eccentricities). The Guernsey Islanders exhibited grace, strength, and courageous ingenuity as they struggled to survive the years of German occupation during World War II.
I highly recommend this book as a good read. The power of a reading group to expand the lives of its members shines through their letters.
Molly (Atlanta GA)
Irrepressible human spirit
The daily privations and loss during a war time occupation are held at bay by generosity and ingenuity resulting in a clandestine feast of contraband pork. The book club hastily formed as an excuse for breaking Nazi curfew becomes a source of strength, courage and hope for the members struggling to survive the war, and results in a journey home for the journalist who visits them after the war.
Nancy (Independence MO)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
What a lovely story. I enjoyed the letter format and the way the characters were developed. When I came to the last letter, I felt like Juliet. I didn't want to leave the lovely town of Guernsey or the special people that belong to the Literary and Potato Peel Society.
Susannah (Richland WA)
could be funnier
I am fond of epistolary novels--those written as a series of letters--but only if there is a good reason for employing this technique. Some excellent examples are Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road and A Woman of Independent means by Elizabeth Hailey. Now Guernsey Literary has joined their ranks. The reader gets to know all the various letter writers in a depth that would be hard to match in a conventional novel. The story itself is charming, informative and amusing. However, I felt that some of the potentially funny vignettes were not given their full quotient of humor. I wanted to laugh out loud rather than smile to myself. Nevertheless, I am passing my copy along to a friend who doesn't read much but I'm sure will enjoy this book.
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.
Gwendolyn (Houston TX)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a lighthearted epistolary novel about an author who travels to Guernsey, a British island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. The protagonist, Juliet Ashton, is a writer with a warm personality and an adventurous spirit. As Juliet researches her next book about the German occupation of Guernsey during WWII, she befriends the quirky members of a book group on the island. Although The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is charming at times, this book is mostly lacking in substance. The characters are formulaic, and the plot is entirely predictable. A quick and forgettable read.
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.