19 February 2010

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Title:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published:  2009  Pages:  274
Genre: Epistolary

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
Juliet Ashton, writer, meets the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society after one of its members finds her address in a Charles Lamb book.  Through this eclectic group of people, Juliet learns of the German occupation of Guernsey and discovers a group of people as quirky as herself.

My Thoughts
This is my second vacation book, and just like the first - Fingersmith - I adored it.  The unusual characters, the moving history of the island, and the wonderful way with words these letter-writers have kept me turning the page...and ignoring the rest of my family who thought this was to be a more social vacation. :)

Epistolary novels are new to me; I've never ignored them, but I've never sought them out.  I assumed that reading a collection of letters would be overly disjointed, fragmented, nothing but glimpses into the lives of the characters that when put together do not tell a story, but rather offer some sort of touchy-feely-idea of who they are, an abstract universal truth instead of an actual plot.  I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case.

At first, I had a bit of difficulty getting into the story.  With no exposition, the novel jumps in with letters not designed to introduce the characters but to start the conflict.  In other words, I had no idea who was who or what was what.  When I stopped trying to figure everything out though, it all came quite easily, and I was quickly immersed in the little intrigues of Juliet and her correspondence partners.

Memorable QuoteMy neighbor Evangeline Smythe is going to have twins in June.  She is none too happy about it, so I am going to ask her to give one of them to me.  This is one of many little quirky comments Juliet makes that make me think she would be a fun friend.

Icing on the Cake:
Positive portrayal of homosexuality
Strong female characters

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

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  1. I loved this on audiobook. I wanted to crawl into the story and live there. On audio, each character was narrated by a different person, which worked well. It did take me about the first disc to get into the swing of the story, but once I did it was very smooth. When I finished I felt flushed and in love. One of the top reads for me last year!

  2. I reviewed this last year and loved it. I thought it was fantastic, but I agree it can be tough to get into if you haven't read novels in letters before.

  3. It's sitting right here on my shelf, waiting to be read. By the time I get to it I may be the last blogger to read it!

  4. This sounds really good, though I can see that the epistolary format could take some getting used to. Juliet sounds like a memorable character.

  5. Somehow I missed out on reading this one when it made the rounds. There was just something about it that didn't make me want to runout and pick it up. But I think you may have just changed my mind and I love that you mentioned the there is a positive portrayal of gay characters in the novel. I love that!

  6. I loved this book! If you didn't read it, you might like my review ... I wrote it in epistolary form!
    Here is the link:


  7. Sandy - Yes! I wanted to "crawl into the story and live there" too!

    Serena - It's a new form for me, but now I can't wait to explore another.

    Stacy - Don't feel bad. I often feel like the last blogger to read a book.

    Stephanie - So many of these characters are unforgettable!

    Nicole - You definitely should give it a try. The characters are just so wonderfully rich and believable.

    Jenners - I can't believe I forgot yours! Don't worry, I'll put myself on a five minute time out right after posting this. :)

  8. I loved this book too, especially how it takes a light-hearted approach to writing about WWII but doesn't sugar-coat the terrible things that happened. And I loved the epistolary format. Made me wish letter-writing was still in vogue.

    I hope it's okay that I linked to your review on the Book Reviews: WWII page on War Through the Generations.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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