The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has one of those annoyingly long titles that is just too cute and quaint for its own good. And that’s about my only complaint about this remarkable novel. I didn’t want to like this as much as I did; I was so disappointed when it first began and I realized it was written in a series of letters. But it was just too charming and poignant to resist, and I fell for its charm reluctantly.
I read this last summer, so again I will cheat and provide a summary from Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly:
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories.
Juliet is so clever and relatable, and you root for her to find inspiration and happiness. This is, fittingly enough, Juliet’s love story, but it is also the story of a love of books. Each character has a story of their war to tell, and the novel shows that war is seen through millions of different lives, perspectives, and experiences. Some have tragic stories to relate, other parts are funny and light. But through their letters they all become interconnected, and it is wonderful to see Juliet learn from the inhabitants of Guernsey, and become one of them.