Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
304 pages

*** About the Book ***

Single gal and newly published author Juliet is on tour for her first book shortly after the end of WWII in Britain when she receives an unexpected letter. A man named Dawsey, a stranger to her, lives on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel and has acquired a book that previously belonged to Juliet. He is hoping to find other books by the same author but since there are no functioning bookstores on the island he's written to Juliet for help. So begins a correspondence which will change Juliet's life forever.

As Juliet learns about the experience of the Guernsey islanders during the war she is taken with the idea of writing a book about it. She begins exchanging letters with other islanders and eventually travels to Guernsey to learn more about these strange and unique people she's come to love.

And that's all I can tell you!

*** Why I Read It ***

My book club chose this for our August book and I was happy since it has been on my TBR list for quite some time. Then TLC Book Tours offered blog tour dates for this book the same month and I figured the stars were definitely aligned in my favor!

*** My Thoughts ***

I LOVED this book. Loved, LOVed, LOVED!!! Why, you ask? Let me count the ways ... um, I mean, let me share the reasons.
  • The time and place - My grandpa fought in WWII and landed in France on D-Day. My gram lived and worked in Coventry and survived nightly bombing runs. I love reading books that make their experiences more real to me and this book fits the bill.

  • The characters - Juliet, the main character, is likable but not perfect. She is aware of her own faults and she can laugh at herself. I feel like I really got to know many of the characters in this book despite the fact that the entire story is told through letters; the way in which each person writes and what they choose to write about tells so much about who they are!

  • The educational content - I love books that teach me things I didn't know but that are still entertaining. This book seems light and fun most of the time but there is an undercurrent of sadness and horror due to the German occupation of Guernsey and WWII itself. I learned SO MUCH from this book! I didn't know about the German occupation of the island, the Polish slave labor sent there, the fact that the island remained occupied even after D-Day .... And there are little things as well, things I'd never considered before. Like what did women in concentration camps due when they menstruated (before starvation stopped it)? That tidbit of info horrified me even more because it was something I simply never considered before.
There is so much more that I could say about this book but I don't want to give too much away. Suffice it to say that for me, this book definitely lived up to all the hype.

I've already recommended this book to several people. In fact, my Gram is visiting for the month and she already co-opted my copy.* When I get it back it will have a permanent place on my new bookshelf, an honor that I reserve only for my very favorite books.

*** Coming Soon ***

I had the opportunity to speak with Annie Barrows by phone, thanks to TLC Book Tours. I'll be posting details of that interview on 8/27 ... and I'll have 5 copies of the book to giveaway (to US and Canadian addresses only).

Plus I'm working on the recap of my book club's discussion of this book. There were over 10 of us at the meeting and everyone had a slightly different opinion. I'll let you know when I get the recap posted.

*** Other Reviews ***

I know that many of you have read this but here are a few of the reviews I've seen lately. If you'd like to be included please post your link in the comments.

* Last summer my Gram read a book that I recommended, and it was the first time I'd seen her read a book in my life. I'm thrilled that she's interested in this book too!



Meghan said...

So glad you loved this one! It was my best of 2008. I loved pretty much everything about it.

Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

I'm so late, this is sitting at home just waiting for me. Thanks for the motivation, I think I'll put this back on top of the pile! I also love learning a bit of history in a fun way. Glad you love, love, loved it even after all the hype :)

Jenny said...

Wow, this sounds so good! I've heard little bits about this book, but this is the best summary of it I've read and it really makes me want to read it! I will definitely be back for the giveaway!

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, I can't believe you got to talk to Annie Barrows! I'm not sure I could have said anything. I can't wait to see what she had to say!

Heather J. said...

Meghan - It will definitely be in my top books list for this year.

Mel - I was leery at first, b/c of all the hype, but this book really worked for me. I hope you enjoy it!

Jenny - Thanks! I had a hard time summarizing it so I'm glad you liked what I had to say. :)

Serena said...

I adored this book. I cannot wait to see what your phone conversation with Annie Barrows brings.

Here's the link to my review:

I will add your link to my review!

ANovelMenagerie said...

Hello. I'm on the TLC tour with you and I also really enjoyed the book. I'm giving away up to 5 copies of this book to lucky readers.... Here's my post:

A Novel Menagerie

Care said...

It IS a great book! I look forward to the recap of the interview AND your book club responses.

softdrink said...

A phone conversation? How exciting! Can't wait to read about it!

Lit and Life said...

I really liked this a lot. Loved the letter style of it, enjoyed the characters. It was a little jolting when it switched styles and I thought Elizabeth was a little too perfect but I think it's a book anyone could enjoy.

Bybee said...

We're reading this for next book group on Sept. 4 Can't wait to see your phone conversation with Annie Barrows.

Michelle said...

I have this out from the library at the moment, I think I'll move it up the pile after your review!

Heather J. said...

Serena & Menagerie - I added you both, thanks!

Care - Glad you enjoyed it too.

softdrink - I was really excited to do it. :)

Lit & Life - I agree completely about Elizabeth. No one else felt that way though, so I'm glad to know that I'm not completely alone. Juliet and Amelia were my favorite characters.

Bybee - Cool! I hope you enjoy your discussion - we certainly did.

Michelle - Yeah!

Rebecca Reid said...

I'm glad you loved it! Even though there were things I didn't like about it, I think it's a book that most people could find something to like about it!

SuziQoregon said...

So glad you loved it too. I thoroughly enjoyed the charm and humor that went along with the tugs on the heartstrings.

Anna said...

So glad to hear you enjoyed this book. I loved it, too. I'll post this one the war blog soon.

Can't wait for your interview!!

Diary of an Eccentric

Heather J. said...

Rebecca - Yes, I agree, there is something for just about everyone in this one.

SuziQ - Charm is exactly the right word for this book.

Anna - Thanks!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm so excited because I just won this from Serena's blog!

mel u said...

I love this book also and was shocked when I found out I knew next to nothing about the WWII period on Guernsey-Thank you for your very perceptive review-
I just did a post on the book at my blog

Heather J. said...

rhapsody - congratulations! I hope you love it!

mel u - there was so much in this book that I simply didn't know - glad I wasn't alone. :) And thanks for commenting - I love hearing from new people. :)

Anna said...

We posted your review on War Through the Generations.

Diary of an Eccentric

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