Book Review : The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
This was my air travel novel of choice. Bit quirky, not too weighty and with an interesting story line.Just perfect to slip in and out of the handbag when travelling…..
Firstly, this is my favourite quote within the book, which has proved totally correct as two days ago I thought Guernsey was a breed of cow.
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you on to another book, and another bit there will lead you on to a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
“Guernsey in reality is part of the Channel Islands, in between England and France. From 30 June 1940, during the Second World War, the Channel Islands were occupied by German troops. Before the occupation, 80% of Guernsey children had been evacuated to England to live with relatives or strangers during the war. Some children were never reunited with their families.The occupying German forces deported over 1,000 Guernsey residents to camps in southern Germany, notably to the Lager Lindele (Lindele Camp) near Biberach an der Riß and to Laufen. Guernsey was very heavily fortified during World War II, out of all proportion to the island’s strategic value. German defences and alterations remain visible, particularly to Castle Cornet and around the northern coast of the island. The island was liberated on 9 May 1945, now celebrated as Liberation Day across both Guernsey and Jersey.” – according to Wikipedia.
This novel is a collection of fictional letters, notes and telegrams, centred around a popular journalist during WW2, Julia Ashton, who is struggling to write her next book after the War.
A gentleman from Guernsey writes to Julia as he is now the owner of a book bearing Julia’s inscription. They have a common interest in an Author which commences a series of letters about books which leads to information about Guernsey, and in particular the formation of The Guernsey Literary And Potato Pie Peel Society.
This group was formed during the time of German occupation and Julia has all Society members and other residents of the Island sharing their stories by mail. She travels to Guernsey to glean more and becomes an integral part of the Island’s fabric.
A fast moving novel with some eccentric characters in an interesting landscape ( very much like Doc Martin in Cornwall) I loved this read and completed it in two sittings. Now I’m off to research more about Guernsey, and yes, when the movie is officially released next week I’ll have my hand up.
Yes, it has flaws: Julia’s self importance gets on my nerves, and Kit, the five year old, could do with a spanking, but it is fun. It is the debut novel of a woman, since deceased, in her 70’s. My only regret ? No recipe for Potato Peel Pie!