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

Some novels have simple, everyday titles that are so common, they can even be found for multiple books. I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t one of them. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” may be a mouthful, but it will be well worth the potential tongue twister! This charming and heart-warming novel will give readers a taste of history while filling them with friendship and history as they meet some of the most kind hearted fictional characters around.

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” tells the story of a woman named Juliet Ashton in 1946. The German Occupation has recently ended in London, and writer Juliet is looking for inspiration for her next work. She receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams who lives on the island of Guernsey. Dawsey finds Juliet’s name in a book he has read and takes a chance in sending her a letter. Might she be able to help him find more books about Charles Lamb? The small island of Guernsey is still recovering from WWII and plenty of resources are still rather scarce. Thus begins the correspondence of Juliet and Dawsey, who tells her all about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, of which he is a founding member. As Juliet asks to learn more about the society (born sporadically as an alibi to please the Germans ), she receives more correspondence from other members of the society and residents of Guernsey. Juliet learns of the trials that the people of Guernsey have gone through when the Germans took control of their island.

This novel is written in epistolary style, which means that it is written in the form of letters. The entire novel is written as the correspondence between Juliet and the residents of Guernsey, as well as Juliet with her friend and publisher Sidney Stark, his sister Sophie, and Juliet’s potential romancer, Markham Reynolds. This is the first novel I have read in this style, and I’ll admit, it took some getting used to. It was interesting reading between the lines and surmising what has already happened based on the letters being written between friends. While I thought I would miss the usual suspects of the average novel: traditional dialogue, internal monologues, and setting descriptions, these elements were still contained in the novel, just presented in a different format. Once you adjust yourself to the change in style, you can settle in and really enjoy this novel!

While this is a sweet novel about the love of books and reading, there are also a lot of historical elements throughout as well. As mentioned, the novel takes place in 1946, just after the second World War. As Juliet meets the residents of Guernsey, the readers learns how the war affected Juliet and Guernsey in different ways – destroying homes, families and more. These stories are just as important as the present-day one, as they have shaped these characters greatly through their loss and how they have overcome. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a great novel for readers looking for something new while learning about the past. There is also a movie adaptation on Netflix which readers should check out as well! Be sure to check this novel out at TBPL today!