The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


The most creative book I have read lately is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”  The personalities of the characters leap off the pages to immerse the reader into the story based on the true events of the German occupation of the British Island, Guernsey.  Though not usually a huge fan of books comprised of letters between characters, the format works remarkably well in this instance.  The authors master not only a clever writing style, but a unique voice and personality for all the characters.  Though they tackle a serious subject, the book is easy to read and alive with humor.

We see much of the events of the book only a few years after the end of WWII through the eyes of Juliet, the main character.  An independent and witty British author, Juliet is in search of her next book.  One day she happens to receive a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey, who tells her that he recently bought a book she once owned.  He tells her that he is part of a secret literary society that began when they island’s inhabitants had to hide a roast pig from the Germans.  Immediately intrigued, Juliet begins to correspond with the man, and soon after, with all the island’s inhabitants. I loved her once she explained that she called off her engagement when her finance removed her books from the bookshelf so they could be relocated to the basement in boxes!  Interested by the characters on Guernsey and their literary society, she travels there to learn about more of their lives and find the perfect story to write.

Through the Guernsey locals, we are introduced to another heroine, and the creator of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Elizabeth McKenna.  They send letters to Juliet recounting Elizabeth’s story, which allows us to gain a better perspective of all the characters on the Island.  While the island is occupied, McKenna dated a German officer, had a child out of wedlock and was sent to a concentration camp for hiding a young Polish boy.  She becomes the focus for the friends she left behind as they all pitch in to raise her daughter, Kit.

The plot is perfectly timed and unfolds well.  There was nothing slow or trite about the writing.  Rather, only clever and refreshingly new themes and issues were present.  I am ashamed to say I often picked this book up only to place it back on the shelf.  I hope you don’t make the same mistake!  I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction and also who love to read (as the book is full of details and remarks only a true reader would appreciate!)

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