Thursday, January 12, 2012

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

goodreads summary: “ 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.

My Review: I think I may be the only person who doesn't have this book in a Must-Reads or a Top 10 Book List. It was beautifully written, but for me some of the characters blurred together. Maybe it's because it's written in letter form, but I wasn't sucked into this book like I have been with others.

Let me back up. My two favorite characters are Elizabeth and Dawsey. Elizabeth had such a fire in her soul in the way she was described and I love strong female characters. Dawsey seemed like the typical guy-next-door: intelligent, shy, average looks.

But Juliet Ashton, the protagonist, is a different story. At first she's likeable. Taken into the life a Guernsey, she meets people by letters and she eventually writes a book about the people of Guernsey during WWII. She eventually meets everyone and falls in love with the people, the island and her love interest.

I completely understand becoming attached to people by researching a book, but I'm thrown out of the story at the end. Even though I didn't like Mark, I thought he had a point. I thought in a way the people were using her to babysit Kit, and using her in different ways. At least, that's the way I interpreted it. I know it's not how it's intended to go, but I couldn't help but think that here she is, taking care of this little girl, on an island with people she hasn't met and has left the only home she knows.

I did enjoy the twist of O.F. O. F. W. W. toward the end, and I appreciated and liked learning all of the stories in the book. I'm always sad when I read a book with a deceased author. It's like I can never ask the author the questions that I want answers to, and I guess I'll never know. It has a wonderful premise and great individual characters, but something was off for me. It didn't drag me in and ensnare me like other books I've read. But a part of me keeps wanting to go back for more. I keep wanting to like it, but for some reason, I can't.

3/5 For now. I'm planning on re-reading it someday, but as of right now it didn't draw me in and some scenes completely took me out of the story.


  1. I have a personal connection with this sweet little island and when this book came out, a friend sent me an advance reading copy. I loved it from the start, and it's one of those books I buy when I get a chance so I can foist it on my friends.

    A few niggles with the language - a few Americanisms crept in - and the characters are a trifle forced, because the whole story is told by way of letters and towards the end they have to contort themselves somewhat to bring the thing to a satisfactory conclusion.

    But everywhere the memories of Guernsey spring pout of the pages. Those little grey villages tucked away amongst the fields, the foolish great fortifications on the headlands, the splendid views from the cliff tops, the winding lanes of St Peter Port. It's a gem of a place, and this book keeps the happy memories fresh.

    Love stories, and courage stories. I liked the way that the subplots unfolded. Nicely paced and the revelations coming in a rush towards the end. Some bitter, some sweet. It's a shame that the authors weren't able to write more together.

  2. Hi Skyring,

    Thank you so much for posting your thoughts! It was difficult for me to rate this book because so many of my friends and published reviews said it was a wonderful book, but for some reason the magic wasn't there for me. I am going to reread this book eventually and give it another chance, but for right now I'm going to place it on a shelf and look at it admiringly.

    Also, your link is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!



  3. I have heard so much about this book. Thanks for your honest review.
    I might check it out later.

    Esha@ Readaholicme



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