Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Book Review and Giveaway

"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive--all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment." - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Marie Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Each month I attend a book club with several women, most of whom are at least 20 years my senior. Those in my club have various tastes in books. Some like books with substance and literary value, others just want to read for enjoyment. Choosing a new read every month isn't easy. However, I had no qualms about recommending the title for this July. I suggested The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle) by Marie Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I had read the book myself a year ago when it first came out and now, since its recent release in paperback, I thought the ladies in my club might find it interesting and easily obtainable. Really, who can resist such an original title?

The novel takes place in England and the Channel Islands in the year 1946, right after the end of World War II. Written with an unusual style, the book uses fictional correspondence in the form of written letters between the characters. Juliet, a popular newspaper columnist living in London, wants to write a new book but finds herself struggling to come up with an interesting subject. By some fortunate miracle, a gentlemen by the name of Dawsey Adams from Guernsey (part of the Channel Islands) writes a letter to her. He gained possession of a book once owned by Juliet, noticed her address inside and decided to send a note to her asking for help in locating a bookshop in London. It is from this letter that Juliet first learns of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book society Adams and his neighbors formed mostly by accident during the German occupation. Thinking that the society would make a wonderful subject for her next project, Juliet asks the members if they would be willing to correspond with her and tell her more about the society, their love of books, the island, and their lives. As she works to write a book that shows the heart of the society, she tries to make sense of her own heart as well.

Every single member of my book club loved this novel. We loved the rich, real characters, the spectacular setting, and the amazing historical background depicting the strength and suffering of those living in Guernsey during the German occupation. Now, I'll mention the book is a bit of a slow starter. Keeping track of the characters isn't easy initially and the writing style involving letters tends to be a little hard to follow at first. But do try to make it through the first letters because the the story is well worth reading. Not one of the members of my club, not even those that lived through World War II, realized the history involving the Channel Islands. Additionally, our group wistfully discussed the art and appeal of written letters. Isn't it a shame that more don't correspond by mail today? Email just doesn't offer the same experience. Mary Ann Shaffer obviously spent a great deal of time researching wartime experiences in Guernsey. With the help of her niece, Ann Barrows, she was able to author a wonderful, moving book full of marvelous expressions and interesting, varied characters.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (paperback) by Marie Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Dial Press Trade Paperback (May 2009; Originally published 2008); 304 pages; ISBN 9780385341004
Book Source: Review copy provided for free by Random House in conjunction with TLC Book Tours

Related Links:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Offical Book Website
Annie Barrows - Author Website
Book Excerpt
TLC Book Tours List of all the participating bloggers in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book Tour

Win a copy! This review is part of TLC Book Tours, and Random House has kindly offered to giveaway up to (5) copies of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to Brimful Curiosities readers. 5 COPIES! (1 copy for every 20 comments) Tell your friends about this one.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to the post or let me know the last time you penned a written letter (no, thank you notes do not count :) ).
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada only (No P.O. boxes)
• Contest ends on Monday, August 24th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winners will be chosen at random
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4):
1st extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
2nd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
3rd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.


Bingo said...

Oh, I KNEW there was a reason I was up this early! I SO MUCH have wanted to read this book! I am a blogger and want to win SO MUCH! Thanks for the chance!

Bingo said...

And of course I am an OLD follower...I'd tweet by don't know how...sorry but thanks for the chance at this book!

Bingo said...

I blogged about your giveaway on my site under my GIVEAWAY tab where they are all listed. My link is http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

The last time I penned a written letter was yesterday!!
Please enter my name in your draw.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

I just became a follower of your blog.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Ladytink_534 said...

Wow. It's been a really, really long time since I penned a letter. Goodness! To be honest I was probably still a teenager or even a tween. I really would love a chance to read this book though because I love to read letters even if I'm not too great at writing them on paper.

Mozi Esme said...

Do Christmas letters count? At least the handwritten notes on them?!

I am a follower & a subscriber.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Beth (BBRB) said...

Hmm, a couple weeks ago I wrote a letter to my aunt. I'm usually more regular about it, but she's been on vacation. :)

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

Yet another person told me last night I HAVE to read this book! Her book club is doing it this coming month, and she is hosting, and actually making potato peel pie! (She said the recipe looks horrible!)

Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Anonymous said...

I follow your blog on Google Reader.

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Anna said...

No need to enter me, as I've already read and loved this book. I agree that it's sad that letter writing has fallen to the wayside in favor of email. Glad to see you loved this book, too.

Would it be okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations?

Diary of an Eccentric

trish said...

Don't enter me, but I just wanted to thank you for such a thoughtful review! I'm glad the ladies in your book club enjoyed it. It *is* a shame we don't correspond via handwritten letters like we used to. One of the casualties of being busy busy busy.

Unknown said...

The last letter I wrote was to my husband while he was in Navy boot camp.

+1 follow in RSS reader
+1 added in sidebar
+1 tweeted

Book Escape said...

My bookclub picked this one for this month. So, I'd love to win it!

Letters are an interesting way to tell a story. The last letters/notes I've written are the thank you notes for my son's birthday (does that count?)

My 6yo loves to write letters and send them out.

Anonymous said...

a number of times I've thought about picking up this book. And now yummy mummy club book group is thinking of chatting about this book next. So I'm in for a copy :-)

mrsshukra said...

Last Christmas was probably when I penned a real letter to my freshman Literature professor!


mrsshukra said...

I follow and also subscribe via google reader!


Danielle said...

I am intrigued by the sound of this book. Sounds like just the type of thing I love to read. I'd love to win!


Unknown said...

I'm not sure when the last time I actually wrote a letter was, probably back in Jr high sometime...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

I'm also a follower via Blogger.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

holdenj said...

I wrote my friend a very long letter with her birthday card last month! I admit to jumping at any chance I have to add a written letter to any cards, etc leaving our home!

Thanks for the giveaway!

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com

Alice H said...

I write my grandmother a handwritten note once a month - she doesn't have computer access so aside these notes mean a lot to our relationship. Thanks for the chance! alicedemskehansen at gmail.com

DarcyO said...

When my daughter was in 5th grade I wrote her letters each week for school. It's fun to go back and read them, along with the ones she wrote to me. This is a great giveaway. I've only heard good things about the book and would love to read it.

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

DarcyO said...

I follow on Twitter and tweeted:

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I am a subscriber and would like to win this book.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

M. said...

Hi, my first time here -
I feel like I'm the only person left who hasn't read this! I suggested it to my book club but it was turned down because so many people had already read it, and everyone recommended it highly.
The advance buzz is so high!
mayamissani AT yahoo DOT ca

M. said...

I'm going to go become a follower, now
mayamissani AT yahoo DOT ca

Sue said...

I'd really love to have this. Thanks for sharing it!!

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

The Book Chick said...

The last time that I actually penned a letter...hmmm....possibly to my Grandma, when my boys wanted to send her pictures that they drew? That would have been about a year ago. Please enter me into your contest!


Marie said...

I'd love to read this book. Please enter me. Thanks.

I'm not much of a letter writer, so if I had to guess when I last wrote a letter that probably would have been 20-30 years ago.

Thanks for hosting this awesome giveaway.

Anonymous said...

I just tweeted about your review/giveaway

Carol M said...

Thirty-five years ago when my sister moved away for about a year.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT aol DOT com

Jessica ( frellathon ) said...

I'd love to win this book. I don't remember the last time I wrote a letter but I really think we need to do that more. It's such a shame it's going out of style. I would love to have a pen pal, I'll have to get one somehow. jessica(at)fan(dot)com

Unknown said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.


nfmgirl said...

I haven't penned a written letter since before I got a computer. It's probably been 15 years or better.

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

I blogged it:

nfmgirl said...

I follow and tweeted:

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Marie said...

I write letters (snail mail) on a regular basis to some close friends who don't like to write via computer :-)


Gaby317 said...

Thanks so much for the entry.

The last time I wrote a letter was months ago - to my father who lives abroad. When we speak long distance, it's often rushed with the 12 hour time difference. It's more satisfying to write a letter, even though he never really writes back!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Lynn said...

I've been wanting to read this for awhile! Thank you for the chance to enter. :) I write small notes in with packages occasionally, but I think college was the last time I wrote a real letter.

Kaye said...

Oooh, I want this one so badly! Please enter me in the drawing, please please. Thanks for hosting such an awesome contest.


Kaye said...

I'm a new follower.florida982002[at]yahoo.com

the last time I actually wrote a letter was the beginning of July to my friend Carol. She is computerless. Imagine that! So I wrote her a big letter for her 70th birthday.

Unknown said...



Anonymous said...

The last time I penned a letter was in June. I have friends that live in different European countries. For us, communication is more personal with a pen.


Anonymous said...

I just subscribed via email.


Honey Mommy said...

Wow. Do long cards count? I can fill up a birthday card in no time.... but I haven't written an actual letter in probably 5 years!

Valorie said...

It was only about a month ago. I sent a friend a letter with a box of presents for her birthday.


Valorie said...

Blogged: http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/08/13/book-giveaways-08-10-08-16/.


Valorie said...

I follow on Twitter and here is my Tweet: http://twitter.com/morbidromantic/status/3293125049.


Amanda R said...

I sent my best friend a happy birthday/how are you? letter last month.
oheeyore at hotmail dot com

Staci A said...

The last time I wrote a real letter was probably around Christmas time. (Yikes!) I guess I should add it to my to do list!

Sara said...

I do love to write letters and send them snail mail. I just hope my recipients appreciate them!
saradavis1 at gmail

Unknown said...

The last time I wrote a letter was last summer. It was a business letter. Personal letters seem to be a lost art for me and I assume for many others.

I would love to read this book.

Thanks for the giveaway.

bstilwell12 AT comcast Dot net

Unknown said...

I am a follower.
I also subscribe by RSS reader
I also follow on Twitter (pine1211)
I tweeted about the giveaway.

bstilwell12 AT comcast DOT net

rubynreba said...

I penned a couple of letters last Christmas.

Amy B. said...

I would love this book!
Thanks for the giveaway!
Amy B.

Amy B. said...

I'm a follower!
Thanks for the giveaway!
Amy B.

ossmcalc said...

This is a book that I have really wanted to read since I read an earlier review of it.

The last time that I wrote a letter that I can remember was when I wrote a letter to my mother and telling her how much she meant to me and what a wonderful role model she was to me. My mother passed away about three years after that letter.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I subscribe via email.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow on Twitter and tweeted http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/3320911299

Thank you,


dag888888 said...

I write letters to my work clients, hope that counts!


ChristyJan said...

I acutally just wrote a letter last Thursday to a friend who was moving.


Beth said...

I penned a letter last week. I sometimes put a letter in my husbands lunch when I pack it.

Please enter me.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

heatherzilla said...

The last letter I wrote was to my sister. It was written about a month a go. I admit, I do most of my correspondence by email.

This sounds like good book. Thanks or the chance to win!

Unknown said...

I mostly use email - apart from the occasional card, I can't even remember the last time I wrote an actual letter (well, I think it was in high school).

Anita Yancey said...

This book sounds really good. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


Annmarie Weeks said...

This book looks great - it's been on my "must read" list for a while now. And the last time I penned a letter was sooooo long ago I can't even remember. When I was a child, we moved and I always wrote letters to my old friends. One in particular wrote back & forth with me all the way until college.

Annmarie Weeks said...

I follow on twitter & tweeted! http://twitter.com/amweeks/status/3412887274

Dolphin Girl said...

I think penned letters are the best. I wrote to my brother a few months ago. I also have my kids write to their great grandparents.

starryann2000 said...

The story has a reality to it since many letters were hand written during and after the war years. Many a romance and friendship was forged in this manner during those times. I write to my cousin, but has been at least six months, however do speak to her on the phone more frequently. starryann2000@yahoo.com

minishoes1 said...

I have been wanting to read this book! Since I was a kid, I have have always loved to write letters. The last time I wrote one was over a month ago to my sister,Anne. Thanks! jacquecurl1@gmail.com

Julie said...

I penned a letter just last week to a 98 year old lady that I know back in NY state where I was born and raised. I know live in Michigan


Anonymous said...

I love the art of letterwritting...I wrote a letter on Friday to a friend who lives miles away.

Would absolutely love to read this book...thanks for the opportunity.

karen k

Amy L said...

I've been waiting for a copy of this book from the library,so I would love to win a copy. The last time I can remember writing a letter, it was with my sister's Christmas card.

Dina said...

Oh gosh, if thank yous don't count, I couldn't tell you. It's been years!

Pamela S said...

WOW!! If I can't count thank yous or quick notes in Christmas cards, I'd probably have to go back to COLLEGE! I used to write my parents letters, but you don't want to know how long ago that was LOL!

I've heard great things about this book and would love to win.

Thanks so much!

Pamela S said...

I'm already a follower.
Thanks so much!

RAnn said...

Wow, it has been so long since I wrote a letter, and I used to do it all the time....

ruthjoec at aoldotcom

tina reynolds said...

looks like a great book thanks for the chance to win eaglesforjack@gmail.com