Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Genre: Historical Fiction

“ 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.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Goodreads
First Sentence:
Susan Scott is a wonder.

Last Sentence:
His much-vaunted shyness has evaporated completely-I think it was a ploy to arouse my sympathies.

  I have so many conflicting feelings after reading this book in terms of reviewing it. At times, I thought it'd be a definite five stars. While at other times, I felt like it was a chore to read this one. After finishing it, I felt three stars was a good middle of the road, honest rating for my experience with reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

  The writing style of this book is epistolary. Don't get me wrong, I usually love reading books like this. But my problem with the use of it in this book is that nearly every character sounded the exact same in their letters. I would have to double and triple check who the correspondence was between while reading through the letters because no one has a unique voice. It was frustrating, to say the least. The few times that a character was able to break out their own voice and add something more to the story were the only times I truly enjoyed this book. But those moments were few and far between.

  Some of the characters in this book are great. You turn each page hoping to learn something new about them. But the others including the main character? Not so much. I felt like there were a few examples of writing a character too perfectly, Juliet and Elizabeth being the main examples. Everyone was so quickly enamored with Juliet and Elizabeth except for the one horrid lady who no one liked anyway!

  The plot of this book isn't very plausible in my eyes. Though while I was reading it, I wished it was. One of the draws that kept me turning pages was the elementary school dream of having a pen pal in some place you've barely even heard of before. (Come on, I know you all wanted a pen pal!) But these letters being sent as rapidly as they were for the time period was not a reality. And I don't believe the decision to waltz off to Guernsey after corresponding with strangers would have been handled that lightly.

  All in all, this book had potential. I won't deny that I enjoyed it at times. It made me learn more about the occupation of Guernsey during WWII, and if a book teaches you something you're better for have finishing it. But I felt like the pretty bow that tied up the end of story so perfectly was the explanation for this book as a whole. It was too perfect, too sweet, and too light for some of the subjects that it covers. If you want a light historical read set in the aftermath of WWII, I'd hesitantly recommend this one. It's rather short, so it'd be a quick read.

Find The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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