The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The first I heard of this book must have been four or five years ago, when a friend at university was reading it, and enjoying it. But that was when I wasn’t reading much for fun, so I didn’t make much of it. Then, last month, I went to visit Megan, and gave back the last book she lent me, and she gave me this. “You’ll love it,” she said. And I did.
I knew nothing about it, beyond hearing people say that they’d enjoyed it. So it was a lovely surprise to find that it takes place during WW2, which is an era I love to read about. Set between London and Guernsey, it tells of the Occupation, from the point of view of Islanders telling it to a writer. Books about writers can be tricky, but this one is lovely. It’s cleverly written, the story told entirely in letters between Juliet (the writer), her friends, and the Islanders she befriends by accident, when one of them happens to get one of her old books second-hand, with her name and address written inside, and writes to her about the book. The characters are fascinating, and I loved how their personalities, pasts and secrets are revealed at their own pace, in their letters, and how it left gaps, just like when we tell stories. It made me want to write lots of lovely long letters.
It’s heart-warming and charming, and rekindled a desire to visit the Channel Islands. The descriptions don’t run over, or drag, and it doesn’t feel gratuitous. It’s not a love-letter to the island, but it is clearly written with deep affection. Guernsey is now firmly on my list of places to visit, and I am in no doubt at all that I’ll love it.
Other categories that The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society fits into: a classic romance, a book by a female author, a book a friend recommended, a book by an author you’ve never read before