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

guernsey-literary-potato-peel-pie-societyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008), 278 pages

This book is on practically every best-of-2008 list I’ve seen.

Not to add my praise to the end of the ovation, but: I love it.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel. That is to say, it is a novel composed of letters, written from one character to another. I love this format, at least I do based on the two (I remember) I’ve read (the other being Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn). Got suggestions for other outstanding epistolary novels I should check out?

The book opens in London, in January 1946. Writer Juliet Ashton is embarking on a tour to promote her new book, Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War, which consists of Ashton’s collected light and humorous newspaper columns. Meanwhile, she’s casting about for a new book idea. She corresponds most with her best friend, Sophie, and her publisher, Sidney. Really, though, this is just the prologue to the actual story.

Ashton gets a letter from a Dawsey Adams, who lives on Guernsey, an island in the English Channel. Adams came upon her address in a book; she was a former owner of the book, and her name and address were inscribed inside the front cover. She parted with it because she came to have two copies of it. This begins her correspondence, and eventual travel to, the island of Guernsey. The island was occupied by the Nazis for several years during the war. She’s found her book topic as she delves into the peoples’ stories of the occupation. The eponymous literary society was created during the occupation, initially as an explanation for the members’ being out past curfew.

Place plays a big role in this book, which is also something I’ve enjoyed quite a bit this year.

I do love the literary themes throughout this novel, and I love the characters, too.

My one wish: That it included some of the writing the author within the book does. I want to at least read the Times article she writes about the literary society, based on her letters from members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Barrows’ website.

Other reviews:
Fresh Ink Books
Farm Lane Books
Reading Adventures


10 responses to “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  1. I loved this book, too! Great review.

  2. This was on my wish list for Christmas but I didn’t get it this time around! Your review only reinforces my desire to get my hands on this book.

  3. Bummer. I hope you get to read it soon, then!

  4. This book is in my TBR pile. I can’t wait to tackle it for our WWII challenge. I’ve heard such good things about it.

  5. Pingback: 2008 in review « Word Lily

  6. Pingback: Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society « Book Addiction

  7. I really liked this book too. My review is here:

    Sorry about not knowing how to make a word link without a gadget to do it for me.

    Thank you.

  8. Pingback: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer (Audio Book) – Farm Lane Books Blog

  9. I just read and reviewed this book on my site after picking it up for cheap at Costco ($12 for the hardcover, though I went back a couple weeks later and saw the paperback for $8). here’s my review:

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