The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Could a novel have a grimmer title? My expectations for this book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows were lower than Rob Blagojevich's approval ratings.
How wrong I was. It turns out that it is absolutely wonderful; a funny and engaging story.
The story, set in 1946, takes place in London and on the island of Guernsey, a Crown Dependency located in the English Channel just off the coast of Normandy. Guernsey was occupied by the Nazis during World War II. The book is structured as a series of letters between the protagonist, writer Juliet Ashton, and residents of Guernsey. One of the islanders initiates the correspondence after finding Juliet's name on the flyleaf of a book by Charles Lamb. This islander, Dawsey Adams, tells Juliet how The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came about as a spur of the moment invention to prevent a number of its members from being arrested by a Nazi patrol.
More correspondence flies back and forth and expands from Juliet and Dawsey to include other members of the Society. Juliet is a bit of a madcap character, but smart, astute and warm. The observations made by the various islanders, particularly about books read for 'book club', are often hilarious and their stories of war time suffering are heartbreaking.
Juliet gets more and more involved with the folks in Guernsey and finally travels there to visit, hoping to find a book in the islanders' experiences. At this point, the authors of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society wrap-up the plot with a red ribbon, which might be a wee bit predictable, but is completely enjoyable.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is highly recommended reading.
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