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
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Offical Book Website
Annie Barrows - Author Website
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.Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4):
• 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
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.