Book review – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I have to admit, that I had not heard of my latest read until the movie came out. Although, the title was enough to grab me. So I went in search of a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. After weeks of looking for a copy without the movie cover (as is my usual practice) I succumbed and purchased the next copy that came across my path.

This book is a gem. A truly wonderful read.

Written by a librarian with the edits finalised by her niece (a writer in her own right), the book is entirely told through the letters which go back and forth between a fabulous literary society on a small channel island and the woman who wants to write a book about them. I was eighty pages in before I thought to flick through to book and discovered that the letters would continue, it was not simply the set up.

What the letters did, was to strip away the majority of scenery descriptions, character physicality profiles and stage directions. We come to know to characters as fully formed people. We know how they speak, what they think and what is a priority to them. We learn about their passions, fears and the worst times of their lives. We come to understand the interconnectedness of all humans and from that basis, learn that the enemy, even during war time, is not all bad just as we are not all good. Every person has the capacity for compassion; whether that is in the form of quietly slipping a potato to a hungry child or falling in love with one of the officers who is occupying what used to be your home.

I cannot tell you exactly what it was that gripped me so much about this book, for it was in the subtly powerful story-telling. There was no single character or turn of phrase I loved, but the beautiful complexity of a well-written and profound story.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will remain on my to-be-read shelf for some time. Not because it is a new treasure waiting to be found, but a new favourite, waiting to be rediscovered.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    Wow! Jenni Curry, you did it again! I feel this is also one i must read! Or, is it that your own writing is becoming even more convincing?

    1. jennicurry says:

      Thanks, Kate.
      Everyone should read this book! Writing about it was so easy; perhaps this is what you are picking up on.

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