“I hope, too, that my book will illuminate my believe that love of art-be it poetry, storytelling, painting, sculpture, or music- enables people to transcend any barrier man has yet devised”
– Mary Ann Shaffer December 2007
Book Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer
Publisher: The Dial Press
Number of Pages: 290
Genre: historical fiction, romance, WWII
Release Date: 2008
“ I swear, Sophie, I think there’s something wrong with me. Every man I meet is intolerable.”
“…I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”
“That’s what I love about reading: 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.”
“We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.”
“Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person’s name suddenly pops up everywhere you go?… He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and “fruitfulness” is drawn in.”
“Maybe I was about to find out what’s on the other side of that silence.”
January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
I initially saw the movie adaptation for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix back in 2018. I typically don’t go back and read a book if I have already seen the movie because I already have a picture in my mind of what the scenery is and what the characters would look and sound like. I discussed with some friends about my refusal to read books if I have already seen the movie, but they told me I should think of the movie as something that is completely separate from the book. In reality, it would be impossible for directors to include every single detail from the book because it would end up being too redundant. Both the book and the movie can be great in their own right and maybe shouldn’t be compared (which of course is something that would be really difficult to do). Of course in a book the author has more of an opportunity to add more details that the director may not be able to.
First off, this book was comprised of just letters between the characters. I have only read a few other books that are written in this manner and I have enjoyed every one of them (ie. PS I Love You and Where Rainbows End by Cecilia Ahern and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. If you didn’t already know, this type of literature is called epistolary, which is literature written in the form of letters.
The book is about British author, Juliet Ashton, who is sent a letter from someone living on the small island of Guernsey in the English channel between the United Kingdom and France just after World War II. The stranger by the name of Dawsey Adams writes to Juliet Ashton about coming across a book that was previously owned by Juliet that helped him during the time of the German Occupation at Guernsey. In the letter, Dawsey tells Juliet about his love of reading and being one of the founding members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Juliet’s curiosity in how the literary society was formed and her love of books prompted her to write to the members and those living on Guernsey and learn more about their experiences during the Occupation. I liked that this book was written entirely of letters that include first person accounts of what they went through during the German Occupation and their shared experiences. You see how characters are directly and indirectly impacted by the German Occupation and lose so much but find so much of themselves and make connections in their love of reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone (even IF you have seen the movie, I still think you should read the book and if you’ve only read the book, you should watch the movie).
Mary Ann Shaffer: