Summary and book reviews of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

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
    Paperback:
    May 2009, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Book Summary

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Part One

8th January, 1946
Mr. Sidney Stark, Publisher
Stephens & Stark Ltd.
21 St. James's Place
London S.W.1
England

Dear Sidney,
Susan Scott is a wonder. We sold over forty copies of the book, which was very pleasant, but much more thrilling from my standpoint was the food. Susan managed to procure ration coupons for icing sugar and real eggs for the meringue. If all her literary luncheons are going to achieve these heights, I won't mind touring about the country. Do you suppose that a lavish bonus could spur her on to butter? Let's try it—you may deduct the money from my royalties.

Now for my grim news. You asked me how work on my new book is progressing. Sidney, it isn't.

English Foibles seemed so promising at first. After all, one should be able to write reams about the Society to Protest the Glorification of the English Bunny. I unearthed a photograph of the Vermin Exterminators' Trade Union, marching down an Oxford street with placards screaming "Down with ...

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About This Guide
Celebrating literature, love, and the power of the human spirit, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is the story of an English author living in the shadow of World War II—and embarking on a writing project that will dramatically change her life. Unfolding in a series of letters, this enchanting novel introduces readers to the indomitable Juliet Ashton. Through Juliet’s correspondence with her publisher, best friend, and an absorbing cast of characters, readers discover that despite the personal losses she suffered in the Blitz, and author tours sometimes marked by mishaps, nothing can quell her enthusiasm for the written word. One day, she begins a different sort of correspondence, responding to a ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Comparisons between The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the works of Jane Austen are inevitable. Elizabeth Bennett pops into the reader's mind early in the book, as the writings of the main character, Juliet Ashton, display the same sort of sharp, irreverent wit as the heroine of Pride and Prejudice.

As with Austen's works, the main strength of this novel is the authors' ability to develop characters that readers genuinely come to care for. Each of the islanders has a unique voice and personality which is evident not only in their own correspondence to Juliet, but in the gossipy letters the neighbors compose about each other as well. There are a couple of exceptions; a self-righteous neighbor and an overly saintly missing member of the Society are one-dimensional, but the rest of the characters are so well-drawn that it's easy to forgive the occasional cursory sketch.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (844 words).

Media Reviews

Barnes & Noble

Through the chorus of voices they have created, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have composed a rich tale that celebrates the power of hope and human connection in the shadows of war.

Publishers Weekly

[A] small charming novel.

Kirkus Reviews

This debut by an "aunt-niece" authorial team presents itself as cozy fiction about comfortably quirky people in a bucolic setting, but it quickly evinces far more serious, and ambitious, intent...the engrossing subject matter and lively writing make this a sure winner.

Library Journal

"[T]his is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word. This marvelous debut novel, sure to have book club appeal, is highly recommended"

Publishing News (London) - Sue Baker

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is written with great charm, the humour offsetting the tragedy, and with the values of bravery, fortitude and endurance. It also has that magic something, and seems to charm everyone who reads it.

Author Blurb Mary Doria Russell
Here's who will love this book—anyone who nods in profound agreement with the statement, 'Reading keeps you from going gaga.' The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delight. Tart, insightful and fun.

Reader Reviews

Abbee Lloyd

Everything you need.
I am not going to lie, I was skeptical of this book. My mother suggested it and she has a questionable background for good literature, but I am so happy to have nothing but good things to say about this book. It takes place back in World War II ...   Read More

Anna

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Chosen by our book club it is one of the best books I have recently read . I cried and laughed in equal measures. What a sensitive approach to the Occupation of which I knew very little. It has spurred me on to delve a little more into that period of...   Read More

joyce

the guernsey literary and potatoe peel pie society
What a great book!!!! I'm sorry it ended but happy I had the opportunity to read it. I actually cried at the ending.

Louise

As delicious as pie!
It was the name of the book that first caught my eye and intrigued my interest. I knew very little about the Island of Guernsey or its involvement in WW2. The letter writing format made it easy to pick up and put down and I loved how the characters ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

A Short History of the Channel Islands, including Guernsey

The Channel Islands are a group of islands approximately 30 miles off the coast of Normandy, France (map). They are organized into two bailiwicks: The Bailiwick of Guernsey (made of up of the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou), and the Bailiwick of Jersey (containing the island of Jersey and a few smaller, uninhabited islets).

Despite being closer to the French coast than they are to Britain, the islands are a self-governing possession of the British Crown. This state of events came about because the islands were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933 and ...

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