January 21, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Well, this book started off as a dud but then got quite better. I admit its not to my usual taste, but it has a certain charm. Although I will say this book is probably not for everyone, it nearly wasn't for me.

Juliet is a writer, most known for her work during World War II. By happenstance, she receives a letter from a man living in Guernsey, one of the islands that was occupied during the war. From this she learns of a book club society that secretly operated under the Occupation. She grows to love the different people of the society and aims to write a book about them. So she goes to stay for awhile on the island and meets them in person. She is especially taken with Elizabeth's daughter, who has been raised by the society after Elizabeth was taken away to a war camp and never heard from again. Juliet longs to stay in Guernsey, but just isn't sure where her life is leading her.

Juliet is a good character. She is real and expresses quite a bit of herself. She isn't afraid to admit when she is wrong and she takes delight in just about everything. She's the type of woman who I would hope to be compared with. I do like Dawsey as well, he is a solid guy, although quiet, and he remains a focus throughout the book, especially since he is the one to make first contact with Juliet. By comparison, her boyfriend was absolutely horrendous and controlling. I did not care for him at all. But really the standout character in this novel is Isola. She is so odd and delightful that you can't help but like her.

I do have to say that the way this book was written was not to my taste at all. It is a series of letters and telegrams from Juliet to other people, other people to Juliet, and other people to other people. I just don't like the letter style, I'd rather read regular writing if it can be called such a thing. I just feel that too much is missed when you're looking at what the characters are putting down in a letter and indeed, some of the letters appear to be missing and I found myself wondering what was in them. The letters at least get longer towards the end of the book and I do think that is why I liked the second half better than the first. You got to know the characters better in the second half as well. And the subject matter was interesting. Probably because it was based on a true place and people that could have existed.

I can't say I'd recommend this book to anyone. But if you think it sounds interesting then give it a go. It does have its moments.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Copyright 2008
278 pages

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