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

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Synopsis: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My Thoughts

I only read this book for the prompt “book about a book club” for the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge and I am thanking my past self right now. This book is definitely different for me as it filled me with warmth and hope.

This book is a historical fiction but it is very different from other books in its genre. Most historical fiction I’ve read is full of despair which really breaks my heart the entire time, especially books about the World War 2. Historical Fiction shows us what people have endured, it shows us all the ugliness and I do agree that it is a must for us younger generations to know. This book, however, is balanced. This book still has the usual elements of a historical fiction. We get to see the aftermath of war, characters are talking about bombings and occupation and hunger and concentration camps. But aside from that, this book shows us that people are resilient and can bounce back. The war may have been a bitter memory but the characters in this book are moving forward into a brighter life.

Another thing that sets this book apart is its structure. This book is an epistolary which means that it is written in form of letters. Basically, the whole story by letters from the characters to other characters. This makes this book feels a lot of personal.

Now let’s talk about the characters. The main character, Juliet Ashton, is looking for a topic for her next book. Fortunately, an unknown man has written her a letter asking for a copy of a book. They start their correspondence and Juliet learns about an island that was in German occupation during the war. Juliet then becomes interested with the people in the island and the island itself. With most of the chapters being Juliet’s letters, we are basically inside her mind and thoughts. Juliet is a kind of a Mary Sue. She is beautiful, smart, kind… she can do no wrong. The same can be said with the other characters. Almost all the characters are stereotypical. But then, I didn’t mind much. It isn’t the individual characters that made this book delightful, it is their interactions. Even if the characters aren’t exactly original, the way they all blended together was beautiful and fun.

The only flaw I really noticed in this book is that the ending is rushed. I would’ve want the ending to be prolonged so the readers can enjoy the moments a little bit more. I found myself asking for more.

Nevertheless, this book is just delightful. It’s a book perfect for readers from young adults to the elderly. It’s a book perfect for us bibliophiles. I highly recommend this for everyone!



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