Oh my goodness.
Have you ever read a book and as soon as you finished it, you wanted to flip back to the beginning and read it all over again?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It relates the story of woman named Juliet who is a writer. She became popular during the war (WW2) for writing a weekly column under the pseudonym of Izzy Bickerstaff. It begins with her traveling about England doing teas and luncheons as publicity for her recently published book which is a collection of those columns made over into book form.
Tired of, and rather overwhelmed by, all the socializing, she receives a letter from a gentleman living on the island of Guernsey, name of Dawsey Adams, who has come into possession of one of her old Charles Lamb books and, due to there being no more bookshops on Guernsey, has reached out in the hopes of finding out more about that author. He informs her that he is part of a book club: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
She is intrigued when he mentions having to keep a roast pig secret and said pig being the cause for beginning their book club. But most importantly of all, what on earth is a potato peel pie? She writes him back sending a book and the address of a bookshop in London where he can hopefully get a biography on Charles Lamb.
Thus begins a humorous albeit touching correspondence between Juliet and many of the other island inhabitants. In answer to her original questions to Dawsey, he puts her in touch with some of his friends. They start telling her bits and pieces and before Juliet knows what has happened, she has a whole island full of people writing her to relate their part in the story of the German occupation during the war.
In case you hadn’t guessed, this book is written in the form of letters. Letters Juliet writes and the letters she receives. I wasn’t sure at first how I would feel about this style of writing. But I came to thoroughly enjoy it. Makes me want a pen-pal of my own!
I really enjoyed reading this story. Parts of it made me nearly want to cry, and other bits had me full-on laughing. It balanced the poignant with hope and mending. Giving us a snapshot glimpse of the horrors of war but reminding all the while that there is always some good to be found. It’s a book about books and the way reading can reach into our very soul and provide unspeakable comfort and peace. It’s a book about the unending beauty of friendships and the way we are shaped and helped and encourage by the people around us.
It was a brilliantly written story and I shall heartily recommend it to anyone.