Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Beach Read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This is not a book I would have ever picked up on my own, on account of 1) it’s found in the “literary” section of the bookstore (I’m a “genre” girl), and b) it’s about history.  World War II history, to be specific, which is so horrific that I prefer to keep my head in the sand about the atrocities committed in 1940s Europe.  But this book was a gift, and the giver kept asking me if I’d read it, so I was pestered into cracking it open, and once in, I was drawn in by the character’s stories.  Now I pester other people to read it. 

Book Title:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Genre:  Historical novel   
Beach Setting: The Guernsey Islands (part of the Channel Islands)
Format:  Trade paperback
Pages: 274
Publication date:  2009
Publisher:  Dial Press Trade Paperbacks
Favorite Passage:  Dear Sidney, Don’t believe the newspaper reports.  Juliet was not arrested and taken away in handcuffs.  She was merely reproved by one of Bradford’s constables, and he could barely keep a straight face.  She did throw a teapot at Gilly Gilbert’s head, but don’t believe his claim that she scalded him; the tea was cold.  Besides, it was more of a skim-by than a direct hit.  Even the hotel manager refused to let us compensate him for the teapot—it was only dented.  He was, however, forced by Gilly’s scrams to call in the constabulary. 

Beach Read Rating:  5 (out of 5) Beach Umbrellas

Review:  Rarely do I find a book that is so rich in language, so fleshed out in characters, and so soft yet powerful in its presentation that I do not want to put it down.  I read the entire novel in two days, and only stopped because the kiddies were demanding a meal (the quickest thing I could find in the cupboards…Fruit Loops for dinner!) and then some life things that had to be addressed that evening.  But first thing the next morning my nose was back tucked between the pages and I was transported to a little island in the English Channel.  BTW, Guernsey is a real island.  I Googled it because I’d never heard of it, let alone its story. 
The entire novel is presented through an exchange of letters, offering us peeks into people’s lives at their most basic and personal level.  Without wanting to (and believe me, I didn’t want to…I just planned to read enough to tell the person who gave it to me that I’d tried…) I was sucked into the story, laughing and crying and rooting for people and hating the circumstances of war.  It was a book I never wanted to end.  But it did, leaving me sad and happy at the same time.  It is a most fulfilling read.     

Cover blurb:  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.

Anyone have a book they didn’t want to read but did anyway (for whatever reason), but then thoroughly enjoyed it and were glad they did? 


Anonymous said...

Sounds really neat. You know, your description sort of reminds me of a British Fried Green Tomatoes. I might have to check this out from the library.

I'm like you--I tend to shy away from "literature." I'm afraid it might make me smart or something. ;)

Anonymous said...

Now I have to find this book and read it. You've got my curiosity up! Thanks for the great review.


Julie Glover said...

Based on your recommendation, I checked out this book, read some more reviews, and then suggested it to my book club. We're reading it! In fact, I mentioned you in my last blog post: What Are Y'all Reading? Thanks for the suggestion. So far, I'm enjoying it.