The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows MAG

November 25, 2009
By VeryTerry BRONZE, Bridgewater, New Jersey
VeryTerry BRONZE, Bridgewater, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an international literary phenomenon that's been on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year and counting. It has been published in 32 ­countries. Today, two million copies are in print in the United States alone.

Why is it so popular? First, because of the engaging plot. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (from here on referred to as TGLPPPS) centers around Juliet Ashton, a burgeoning writer in post-World War II England. By chance, she starts a correspondence with group of people living on Guernsey, one of Britain's Channel Islands, and she soon becomes absorbed in the story of the island during the war. Several Guernsey ­inhabitants formed a literary society as a way of escaping the hardship and terror of their island's Nazi occupation. Written as a series of letters between Juliet, her editor, and the members of the society, TGLPPPS provides a delightful mix of war, romance, and the healing nature of literature and friendship. It also offers an accurate and compelling view of London and Guernsey in the wake of World War II.

TGLPPPS was written in a slightly risky manner: often, epistolary books, in which ­letters are written between characters, seem trite and ­boring. However, Juliet is a well-formed character, at times hysterically clever and heart-wrenchingly emotional. She writes most of the book's ­letters, but there are also ­messages from other characters that show each one's distinct personality and perspective. ­Although the array of characters is at first a bit confusing, each one quickly solidifies into a unique and memorable ­person. The setting, too, is vividly described, especially considering the rich historical context.

There are very few unlikeable aspects of this novel. The main, and really only objectionable element, is Juliet's ­romantic life. Her relationships throughout the novel are sweet, but predictable and fairly unoriginal.

All in all, however, TGLPPPS is charming with fascinating characters and a rare look at the Channel Islands during and after the second World War. It is a great read for all ages and abilities.

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