The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Stories of resilience and hope
[amazon cover 0385340990]
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows
(Reviewed by Nancy Jelinek)
The story opens in January 1946, as London, indeed all of Britain, is trying to shake off the gloom and devastation of World War II. Author Juliet Ashton, traveling the countryside to book signings for her anthology of “Izzy Biggerstaff Goes to War” columns, writes her publisher that her heart and soul are no longer into writing her proposed next book, English Foibles. She wants to be taken more seriously as a writer.
Juliet is drawn into the story of Guernsey when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer on the island, who has an old book of Juliet’s with her name and address on the inside cover. As there are no longer any bookstores on Guernsey, he has written her to ask for the name and address of a London bookshop. His letter also mentions the occupation of the Channel Islands by the Germans during the war and how the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society managed to save his life.
Intrigued, Juliet begins to correspond with Dawsey and, eventually, with the other members of the Society. Their stories of resilience and hope, despite hardship and heartbreak, lead Juliet to a stay on the island, with some surprising results.
Mary Ann Shaffer spent most of her life as librarian, editor, and bookshop employee. Her own book club encouraged her to write a book. When she became ill, her niece Annie Barrows, a children’s book author, helped Shaffer finish this tribute to the people of the Channel Islands and to the relationships people develop through the love of words. In a world of emails and “texting,” The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, told by letters written between the characters, was at the top of my list for Christmas gifts to friends who love to read.
Published January 9, 2009
Silver Planet Book Review Columnist