Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Marry Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 184 (Ereader)


Dear Sophie,

Of course I'd adore to see you, but I am a soul-less, will-less automation.  I have been ordered by Sidney to Bath, Colchester, Leeds, and several other garden spots I can't recall at the moment, and I can't just slither off to Scotland instead.  Sidney's brow would lower--his eyes would narrow--he would stalk.  You know how nerve-racking it is when Sidney stalks.

I wish I could sneak away to your farm and have you coddle me.  You'd let me put my feet on the sofa, wouldn't you?  And you'd tuck blankets around me and bring me tea.  Would Alexander mind a permanent resident on his sofa?  You've told me he is a patient man, but perhaps he would find it annoying.

Why am I so melancholy?  I should be delighted at the prospect of reading Izzy to an entranced audience.  You know how I love talking about books, and you know how I adore receiving compliments.  I should be so thrilled.  But the truth is that I'm gloomy--gloomier than I ever was during the war.  Everything is so broken, Sophie: the roads, the buildings, the people.  Especially the people.

My Rating:

This book begins in England at the end of World War II when Juliet Ashton expresses discontent with writing about the war and must search for a topic for her next book.  It is a compilation of notes, letters, and telegrams between friends and acquaintances.  She receives and unexpected letter from Dawsey Adams and stumbles into the world of the Guernsey Literary and Sweet Potato Peel Pie Society--who were cut off from the rest of the world during the Nazi occupation.  Through her correspondence, Juliet learns about the groups tastes in books, the effect of the war on their lives, and many other quirky and fun every day tidbits.  She decides to visit herself leading to life-changing results.

I loved this book despite the confusing name.  This is a book about book-lovers, romance, friendship, and history.  There is something for everyone.  You will find yourself laughing at the local busy-body, Adelaide Addison, and cheering for the local hero, Elizabeth McKenna.  You will laugh and cry with these adorable and quirky characters.  You might even wish you knew them yourself.  I found the book to be an easy read, but I didn't like the constant back-and-forth that came with the the entire book being a compilation of letters and notes.  I'm sure that's what makes the book what it is but I found it difficult to keep up with initially, but when I caught on, I too was swept into the world of the Guernsey Sweet Potato Peel Pie Society.

Has anyone else read this book?  What did you think?  Am I the only person distracted by writing that veers from traditional formats?  Anyone like the compilation of letters, notes, and telegrams?  Please comment, I want to hear it all.
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  1. I have been resisting this one for quite some time. It seems like books that get so much hype end up being a disappointment to me. I either skip them all together or wait until all the hype dies down.....

  2. How funny - I often feel exactly the same as Julie, above. However, I have to say I did enjoy this very much, especially the distinctive narrative voice and the rich detail.

  3. I absolutely LOVED this book, and was SO excited to see a review of it here! I initially put off reading it, as Julie above mentions doing, because I had heard SO much hype that I was convinced I wouldn't like it. But then I ended up *listening* to it while driving from Texas to Illinois, and was very happily proved wrong! Turns out this book actually deserves its high reputation.
    I know that a lot of people are skeptical of books on cd, and I'm definitely one of those people, but I think this is the PERFECT kind of book to listen to rather than to read, for the reasons Alexis points out. It's a lot of back-and-forth, and switching plots, but when you have the different voices reading out loud it's very easy to follow. Plus, you get British accents--that never happens when I read to myself ;)

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  5. I can understand. I'm often disappointed by books that receive a lot of hype. I hadn't heard the hype when I read this book though. In fact, I think it was Sarah that recommended it to me :)

    But I think this would probably be even better on tape. I've never done the books on tape thing. I need to give it a try soon. Cause I spend soooo much time in my car.


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