Saturday, January 3, 2009
Book Look Review "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"
Since the newspaper gods have been choosing odd headline fillers to top my column recently, I decided to stop this disturbing trend by reviewing a book with a very long title.
Actually I decided to read and review The Guernsey Literary etc. (shortened here for review purposes) several weeks ago since so many people have recommended it. The idea to use it as a misleading headline blockade just popped into my head today. Think it will work?
The Guernsey Literary etc. is written with warmth and humor by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The story is set in 1946 London as it emerges from the Second World War. The main character is the witty Juliet Ashton, who wrote a popular newspaper column, “Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War”. Following its success as a newly published book, she is looking for a fresh writing project. Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands occupied by the Germans during the war. Dawsey introduces Juliet to other members of the book club on Guernsey, by way of correspondence. Her writer’s pen begins to twitch with curiosity. And she is a wee bit interested in the fascinating Mr. Adams as well.
Through the letters we learn that during the war, a group of friends caught out after curfew, spontaneously invented a literary society. Although they had been sharing an illegal pork dinner, they create an alibi to keep them out of jail. The Guernsey Characters, and they are characters, are brave and humorous. Their love of life and literature make us wish they would write letters to us too.
I really enjoyed this heartwarming book. It took some time to get into the rhythm of the letters and to keep the characters straight, but it was worth it. I kind of missed these quirky lit lovers when I finished the book – that’s how you know it was a good read. I am also guessing that a sequel will soon follow. I hope so.