I’m glad I spotted Penny’s invitation to join this online book circle. I love reading books and being thoroughly absorbed into them. As life goes by, it’s all too easy to find yourself reading nothing more than the junk mail that arrives in the letterbox. Some of that is great to read too…. how else do you find out where you need to purchase that next “must-have” from? Last year, reading was by and large text books, or study notes. And while they were “must-reads”, it’s not the same thing as reading for the pure enjoyment of reading.
So I was late on board the reading circle and only just found my copy of the book of the month, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societyby Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Juliet Ashton lives in London after World War II and is trying to find a subject for her next book when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, who lives on Guernsey, one of the Channel islands between England and France. Dawsey has purchased a secondhand book by Charles Lamb that had Juliet’s name and address in the cover. He is writing her to see if she can recommend other books by Lamb.
Dawsey’s letters make Juliet interested in life on Guernsey, which was occupied by Germans during the war. She begins exchanging letters with other members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a hodge-podge group of readers who formed their society as an alibi to keep from getting arrested by the Nazis.
Through the letters, readers come to know and love Juliet and a variety of friends and foes on Guernsey.
What did I like / dislike about the book?
I loved the humour that came through clearly in the character of Juliet. The way the letters allowed the story to unfold in front of the reader made the story more cosy for me. I was able to easily be transported into the story and feel involved in the plot. I was impressed with how the story was upbeat, yet was dealing with subject matter much darker in terms of it drawing upon recollections of Nazi occupation and life on the island during the war. While not drawn to tears at what I was reading, it certainly was able to make clear the horrors people faced at this time. (Think starvation and deprivation, forced seperation from loved ones, uncertainty of life or death….) I think that it was the device of using letters as ways of reporting what was told rather than the more confronting first person style of writing that made the book much more accessible, up beat and very humourous.
If you haven’t already read this book, I could highly recommend it.