Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

Pages: 290

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I saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society on Netflix and it immediately caught my attention. Apparently, I’m really into the German occupation right now. I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and am currently reading The Diary of Anne Frank. I realized it was a book and decided to read it before I watched. I logged into my library app and I put it on hold but I was 122 in line so… I decided to spend the $13 and order it off of Amazon. I’ll always taken the opportunity to grow my personal library when I can.

The Goodreads synopsis reads: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.”

I very much enjoyed the book. I’ve always been drawn to books written using correspondence as the story-telling device. The lack of narration allows you to draw your own conclusions about characters and situations. The characters felt warm, quirky and real. Juliet is an intelligent, strong, and independent woman–especially considering the fact she was written in 1946.

The movie, while following the heart of the book, was different. There were entire characters left out of the movie version. However, I loved seeing the on screen depictions of each of the characters. I wished I had waited longer to watch the movie after reading the book and waited less between finishing both and attempting to write this review.

All in all, I recommend both. If you like historical fiction this story will be right up your alley. While it happens immediately after the German occupation it manages to be heartfelt without feeling too heavy. Should you read the book before watching the movie? I do think there are things I only picked up on because I had the knowledge from the book but… it’s probably not necessary but I’ve got to say it… the book was better.

Questions:

1. Do you feel the need to read a book before seeing the film adaptation?

2. What’s the last book you read?

3. Do you have any good historical fiction book recommendations?

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