Wednesday, October 1, 2014

potato peel pie?

For book club this month, we read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. 

Once you get past the initial question... (potato peel pie?!) this is a lovely novel.  Written entirely as an epistolary novel, it manages to keep up a strong pace and introduce you to a motley crew of characters who are loveable and totally three-dimensional.

I've decided I love novels that are made of letters.  Daddy-Long-Legs, if you've read it, is similarly charming to this one.  They make for easy and natural reads, but while this one is fun and sweet it also manages to do justice to really serious things.  I'm not sure how the author did it!

The heroine is Juliet Ashton, a columnist in London, immediately post-WWII, who is promoting a novel.  She receives a letter out of the blue from a Channel Islander.  A secondhand book she once owned has fallen into his hands, and he writes to the address in the front cover telling her how much he has enjoyed the novel.  As they begin to exchange letters, she finds out more about an unusual society started by some of the residents of Guernsey during the Nazi occupation of their island during the Second World War.  Before long, Juliet is hooked - writing regularly to the members of the society, and well aware that she has tumbled upon the next big story that needs to be told.

The characters are lovely and the story has got everything.  Good, evil, things in between.  Love, misunderstandings, friendship, enmity.  Hope in humanity, sorrow in evil too great for words.  A new slant on WWII literature.  It's not Great Literature but it is delightful and thoughtful.  I read it in only several days because I enjoyed it so much.

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