Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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

I had heard a lot about this book before borrowing it from my mom. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was that the whole book was comprised of letters to and from the characters. At first, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get the "full story" without the tried and true narrative descriptions we are all used to. But the story clipped along at a good pace and my doubts were dissolved. Not the best book I've ever read, but its shorter length makes it easy to crank out in a week or two.

From Publishers Weekly on

The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers. (Aug.)
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