Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Earlier this week I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

This was one of the more enjoyable books I'd read in a long time.
Early in the book one of the characters writes:
"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."
I love this sentiment and was happy that this book found me.

Even if this book had been awful I probably would have enjoyed it because it contains a few of my weaknesses - novels in epistolary form, and a book about readers who love books. As it was I found the story captivating and really fell for the characters, and wished it had been just a bit longer!

The book is about a literary society that forms in an unlikely way on the Guernsey islands during World War II when the Germans occupied the islands. After the war, an islander connects with a Londoner, an author, over a book and a pen pal type relationship is formed. The novel is set up with letters among various people and my poor description isn't quite capturing it, but I would certainly recommend this one.

The novel has two authors, and it was originally created by Mary Ann Shaffer, when her health began to fail her niece took part in the writing. I was sad to read online that Mary Ann Shaffer did not live to see her book published. I did find an interesting interview with Annie Barrows if you are interesting in reading more.

Peaknit is reading this as well so I'd be interested to hear her thoughts.

I'll close with another quote from the book that captures one element of reading:
"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."


  1. I need to write my thoughts out - I enjoyed this charmer too!

  2. I just wanted to add that I loved the characters in this book - Juliet was such a smarty pants for the era and Dawsey, couldn't you just kiss his cheek?

  3. I'm reading this as well - the book, I mean-, but I'm merely at the beginning, therefore all as I can say for sure at the moment is that I like it a whole lot. I invited myself on your blog - apologies if I'm intruding - because I found it on a search engine. Curiously enough I had only fed in 'literary penpals' and your blog is one of the sites the search engine came up with. Now, the bizarre thing is that I am reading this book just now and moreover that I'm a knitter - this probably has nothing to do with anything, does it? Or, perhaps only seemingly. Maybe, it appears in the name of your blog as misteriously as the potato peel pie in the literary society's name. And maybe after some exchanges (of letters or other), I will get to the bottom of this mistery. Or maybe I will just read more entries on your blog and hope to find the answer - for now I only read your entry about the Guernsey book and instantly decided to follow your merry literary company of 3 (?).