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Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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A historical novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows takes place in post – World War II England.  Juliet Ashton is an author who enjoyed great success with her humorous newspaper columns during the war, but now that the was is over, she is having trouble finding a suitable topic to write about.  When Dawsey Adams, a Guernsey Islander, writes to Juliet because her name and address were in a book he found and loved, Juliet is drawn to Guernsey where a book club started spontaneously as a way to mislead German soldiers who were occupying the island.  (The reason for the deception? A group of islanders were trying to hide the fact that they’d just had a roast pig supper — highly illegal in occupied Guernsey!)

Through a series of letters written among Juliet, her London publisher and London friends, and a number or Guernsey Islanders, Juliet finds just the topic she was looking for — as well as a new group of friends.

I found I needed to pay close attention at first to the note that preceded each letter in the book so I knew who was writing to whom.  I was afraid that I would get confused, but the more I read, the more the characters were evident by their writing style, and the less important the notes became to me.  Amazingly, the letters never seemed false.  I never thought to myself, “Well, no one would actually ever write such things in a letter.  It’s too much.”  Each letter was well-crafted and told vital pieces of the story without seeming like merely a vehicle for narration.

The characters are drawn beautifully.  Neither the country folk of Guernsey nor the German soldiers fall into stereotype.

The ending, while predictable, was so sweet that I didn’t care that I saw it coming early in the book.

Score: 9/10

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About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

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