The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is written in letter form, which, admittedly, was a little confusing at first, but once I had a firm grasp of the main characters, I was hooked. The story takes place right after World War II. The letters span from January to September 1946. The characters reside in the UK (mostly London) and St. Peter Port. St. Peter Port is part of Guernsey, a Channel Island, located in the English Channel between the UK and France. The main character, Juliet Ashton, is a quick-witted writer and book lover. During the war, Juliet authored a humorous column for The London Times. Although she enjoys her job, Juliet wants to be respected as a serious writer, too.

Meanwhile, an inhabitant of Guernsey, named Dawsey Adams, comes to own a book, which once belonged to Juliet. Enthralled by the book’s author, Charles Lamb, Dawsey writes to Juliet, in hopes of learning more about him. As their correspondence progresses, Juliet learns about Dawsey’s involvement with the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that was created out of necessity during the German Occupation of St. Peter Port. Juliet finds the story so riveting that she starts corresponding with other members of the literary society. What she discovers is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.

I read this book in two sittings (only because sleep was required in between them). The story is riveting! I was surprised and enthralled by the authors’ dichotomy between humor and horror. The characters are charming and endearing, especially Juliet. At the same time, the detailed and gruesome anecdotes about life during the German Occupation are rather disturbing. The authors obviously did their homework! The dichotomy is necessary to reveal the heroic nature of friendship, love, and strength of character shown by everyday people during a very dark time. I highly recommend this book. The references made to classic literature are intelligent and amusing; a reflection of the book’s witty character. If you are looking for a highly enjoyable read, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is it!

Written by Brooke C., Youth Services

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