Just the other day I commented on another blog (sorry, I can’t rember which one, but I think it was Book Club Girl) that I was in the midst of reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I was only halfway through at the time but enjoying it far more than I expected. I believe I wrote then that I had been afraid all of its good press was over selling and it could never live up to all of its glowing reviews.
And now I’ve finished it and indeed, it is a truly delightful book. It was an absolute joy to read– the characters fresh and engaging, the main character, Juliet, believable, funny, and intelligent– all the things I want in a female protagonist.
The book takes place in post-WWII London and Guernsey, England. Juliet is a writer of some renown who finds herself corresponding with the Channel Islanders as they sift through their war experience. The book is a series of letters, telegrams, and ‘observations’ both from Juliet and those with whom she corresponds. This makes it a fabulously quick read and the differing voices of the letter writes are well developed. You can see these people and more importantly, you want to know them. Their voices are mournful, humorous, shrill, earnest, wistfull, even accusatory, but all very believeble. It’s not War and Peace, but it is a wonderful addition to contemporary fiction.
I fear that my short squib here won’t do the book justice either and I am as guilty as other readers and reviewers in singing its praises. It could so easily have been campy or hokey, and cynical as I am, I admit I expected it to be rather lame. Much to my chagrin, I’m left wanting more and that to me, is the mark of a really excellent novel. I’ll just have to wait and assume there will be a film version. Of course, that won’t do it justice either, but now I want to see late ’40’s Guernsey.
Suffice it to say this book is a definite 10! Book clubs will eat it up with a spoon.