Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (2008)

Based on the title alone, I never would have picked up this book in a million years had it not been for the recommendation of two people I know and trust. I’m certainly glad I did, because it was a wonderful reading experience and just perfect for someone on the mend. This epistolary novel is primarily set on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel in first year following the close of WWII. At the center is Juliet Ashton, an author whose search for her next subject is answered when she begins a correspondence with an islander who discovers her name on the flyleaf of a book of poetry. Soon she’s trading letters with a collection of characters, all members of a literary society formed during the dark days of the war when their island under Nazi occupation.

This book shares a lot in common with another of my most favorite books about books, 84 Charring Cross Road: friendship formed over a love of books and reading, told through letters, set in an England adjusting to life after wartime. There’s much more story going on in Guernsey, as Juliet becomes personally involved with her correspondents, paying an extended visit to the island, living among her new friends, and learning the fate of a particular islander who disappeared during the war.

Humorous, romantic, and tragic, full of heart and period detail, this is a compelling story that carries on strong to its satisfying conclusion.

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