Excerpt from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2008, 288 pages
    May 2009, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Print Excerpt

The red stain on the cover that looks like blood—is blood. I got careless with my paper knife. The enclosed postcard is a reproduction of a painting of Lamb by his friend William Hazlitt.

If you have time to correspond with me, could you answer several questions? Three, in fact. Why did a roast pig dinner have to be kept a secret? How could a pig cause you to begin a literary society? And, most pressing of all, what is a potato peel pie—and why is it included in your society's name?

I have sub-let a flat at 23 Glebe Place, Chelsea, London S.W.3. My Oakley Street flat was bombed in 1945 and I still miss it. Oakley Street was wonderful—I could see the Thames out of three of my windows. I know that I am fortunate to have any place at all to live in London, but I much prefer whining to counting my blessings. I am glad you thought of me to do your Elia hunting.

Yours sincerely,
Juliet Ashton

P.S. I never could make up my mind about Moses—it still bothers me.

From Juliet to Sidney
18th January, 1946

Dear Sidney,
This isn't a letter: it's an apology. Please forgive my moaning about the teas and luncheons you set up for Izzy. Did I call you a tyrant? I take it all back—I love Stephens & Stark for sending me out of London.

Bath is a glorious town: lovely crescents of white, upstanding houses instead of London's black, gloomy buildings or—worse still—piles of rubble that were once buildings. It is bliss to breathe in clean, fresh air with no coal smoke and no dust. The weather is cold, but it isn't London's dank chill. Even the people on the street look different—upstanding, like their houses, not grey and hunched like Londoners.

Susan said the guests at Abbot's book tea enjoyed themselves immensely—and I know I did. I was able to un-stick my tongue from the roof of my mouth after the first two minutes and began to have quite a good time.

Susan and I are off tomorrow for bookshops in Colchester, Norwich, King's Lynn, Bradford, and Leeds.

Love and thanks,

From Juliet to Sidney
21st January, 1946
Dear Sidney,

Night-time train travel is wonderful again! No standing in the corridors for hours, no being shunted off for a troop train to pass, and above all, no black-out curtains. All the windows we passed were lighted, and I could snoop once more. I missed it so terribly during the war. I felt as if we had all turned into moles scuttling along in our separate tunnels. I don't consider myself a real peeper—they go in for bedrooms, but it's families in sitting rooms or kitchens that thrill me. I can imagine their entire lives from a glimpse of bookshelves, or desks, or lit candles, or bright sofa cushions.

Excerpted from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows Copyright © 2008 by Mary Ann Shaffer. Excerpted by permission of The Dial Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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