Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I've read several reviews of this book, and they've all been favorable. I'm throwing my lot in with the rest. I absolutely loved this book. It's written as a series of letters and is set just after the end of World War II. The main character, Juliet Ashton, is a writer in search of her next book idea when she receives a letter from Dawsey, a resident of Guernsey (Channel Islands). He's in possession of a book that originally belonged to Juliet, which had her name and address in it. Dawsey writes to Juliet who lives in London to find out how he can get more books by and/or about this author -- Charles Lamb. Other Guernsey Island residents begin writing Juliet and she soon becomes obsessed with these people who lived through a Nazi occupation during the war. Thus begins a correspondence that leads to life-changing events for everyone involved.

I fell in love with these characters, especially Juliet, Dawsey, Sidney, and Isola. I laughed out loud more than once at the shenanigans of Isola. The book is full of wit and charm, but there are also passages that tear your heart out as you read about what it was like for the islanders during the Nazi occupation. In the end it's a look at life, love, and the humanity and inhumanity of people during the most difficult of times. Like the old saying about hardship either bringing out the best or the worst in people -- it's all here in this book. One of the things that I really liked is the way that the author made some of the German soldiers on the island human -- instead of portraying them all as monsters. Governments start wars, and it's the ordinary citizens as well as the soldiers that have to deal with the aftermath of those decisions.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society of the title is a book discussion group that began in an unexpected way and allowed the members to find solace in the pages of great books and in each other's company. This book was over way too fast. I wanted it to go on.

14 comments:

Becca said...

I've just started seeing mentions of this book. Your review has certainly moved it to the top of my list!

Lisa said...

becca, it really is a great book. I think you'll enjoy it.

Jena said...

I've seen/heard a number of positive reviews of this book, but I'm having a hard time getting past the title. Maybe I'll think of your review if I ever see it up for grabs at the library, and give it a chance despite its title.

litlove said...

I keep coming across this book getting ecstatic reviews from bloggers! Okay, I can see I shall have to read it now. I loved your review.

Lisa said...

jena, don't let the title turn you off. It really has nothing to do with the story. It's simply the name of the literary society they form.

litlove, it really is quite good. I hope you like it!

Gentle Reader said...

This sounds great! I'm looking for things to take on vacation with me, and this looks like just the thing! Thanks for the review :)

Lisa said...

gentle reader, I hope you like it as much as I did.

Nymeth said...

I don't think I'd heard of this one before. It sounds amazing. Thanks for the review, Lisa.

Tara said...

Yep. I need to read this one. Thanks for your review.

Danielle said...

This seems to be a popular book at the moment. I have it sitting on my nightstand and will be starting it very shortly. I don't think I've come across anyone yet who didn't like it.

Lisa said...

nymeth, I think it'll start making its way around the blogosphere soon. It's that kind of book.

tara, I think you'll really like it.

danielle, it is a quick, fun read. Hope you enjoy it.

Jeannie said...

I just finished this book last week...it is just as wonderful as Lisa says!
I loved the letters and the characters and I enjoyed really learning & feeling for this time in history.
The title I think is so creative - don't let it stop you from reading a beautifully written novel.

Traci said...

I really need to just break down and buy this book. I have yet to see it get a bad review.

Lisa said...

jeannie, I was surprised to hear that people were turned off by the title. But, you're right -- it's really good!

traci, I think it's worth it. It's definitely one I'll reread at some point, and I don't often reread books.