I read books. A lot of them. I’ve loved reading since I was four years old, and I still get carried away whenever I’m at the library. (It’s not uncommon for me to check out more books than I can reasonably carry, so I end up holding the stack down with my chin as I hurry to my car.) Still, I have a difficult time remembering the books I read, and I’m always at a loss when I’m asked about my favorite book or author. I’m hopeful that by writing these reviews, I’ll remember more about the books I’ve read.
This book is called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows). Long name, great book. It’s set in England and specifically the Channel Island of Guernsey in the years immediately following World War II. I love me some historical fiction, but I was a little relieved to find that this book was less of a tearjerker and more lighthearted than most other novels set in the WWII era.
The plot of the novel centers around Juliet, a London columnist looking for a new book idea, and her correspondence with the literary society of Guernsey, a Channel Island that had been Occupied by the Germans during the war. The entire book is made up of letters, telegrams, and memos written by the characters to other characters. Of course, this limits how much detail we get, but on the whole it works well. Each of the characters is memorable and often slightly eccentric, and we grow to love the Islanders just as Juliet does. The book manages to touch on some of the lesser-known (at least to me) horrors of German Occupation and the aftermath of the war (should we talk about the atrocities, or just try to forget what happened? Is it still a luxury to buy a new dress?), while still giving us the small town feel and quirks of which I’m such a fan (enthusiastic, broken-nosed Isola going around and reading everyone’s head bumps? Love it).
My only issue with this book is the lack of details, necessitated by the format. I wanted to be present for the literary society’s meetings, not just read a letter about what happened! Still, it’s a surprisingly sweet look at the aftermath and healing that occurred after WWII, with just enough romance, unconventional characters, and plot-enhancing Amazing Coincidences to keep things light and fluffy.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good
Have you read this book? Have any suggestions for what I should read next? Let me know in the comments!