The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferJanuary London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. 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. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Why did I read this book: A friend of mine, knowing I love epistolary novels and stories in a Second World War setting, put this book in my hands after she read it and loved it. It was sitting on my nightstand when Elizabeth Wein, author of the fabulous Code Name Verity mentioned it as one of her influences and that was what made me finally read it.
Classic review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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The zany title of Mary Ann Shaffer's first and, alas, last novel derives from an invented book club on the island of Guernsey in the second world.
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The book is set in and is an epistolary novel , composed of letters written from one character to another. In January , year-old Juliet Ashton embarks on a cross-country tour across England to promote her latest book. Written under her pen-name Izzy Bickerstaff , the book is a compilation of comedic columns she wrote about life during World War II. Despite the fact that she was initially contracted to write another Izzy Bickerstaff book, Juliet writes to her publisher that she wants to retire the pseudonym. On her tour Juliet is greeted with flowers everywhere from the mysterious Markham V.
T he zany title of Mary Ann Shaffer's first and, alas, last novel derives from an invented book club on the island of Guernsey in the second world war. The club is invented by the resourceful character Elizabeth McKenna, who, bumping into a German patrol after curfew with a crowd of revellers, makes the society up on the spot. In reality, the tipsy party had been consuming forbidden roast pig at Amelia Maugery's. This is less a historical novel than a bibliophilic jeu d'esprit by an ex-librarian and bookseller, posthumously published, and completed by her niece Annie Barrows. A novel in letters about books, bibliophiles, publishers, authors and readers, it centres on an imagined post-occupation Guernsey. Juliet Ashton, the whimsical, intuitive heroine, is an up-and-coming writer.
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. View Full Version of PW. More By and About This Author.