Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published by: Dial Press / Random
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Reviewed by Kathy Perschmann
I rarely give a book 5 stars- BUT this one has it all. Well-drawn and interesting characters, an incredible setting, dire circumstances, suspense….and even a tiny bit of romance. It is told in the form of letters–an epistolary tale, an unusual and often difficult way to tell a story. But it works beautifully here.
Set in 1946, following World War II, author Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a man, Dawsey Adams, who has purchased a used book by Charles Lamb. This book has Juliet’s name and London address written inside the front cover. Touched by his love of Lamb, Juliet goes out of her way to get him more books, and replies, asking him more about some of the stories in the first letter, specifically the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, formed during the German occupation of Guernsey.
Continued correspondence entices Juliet to visit Guernsey, to try to find a subject for an article she has been commissioned to write about the reading habits of the Society. She may even find a subject for her second book in the stories of the occupation she has heard from their letters. The letters even distract her from a burgeoning romance with a handsome and wealthy American publisher.
Mary Ann Shaffer, who had worked as a librarian, editor, and in bookshops, wrote the book over a number of years, found an agent, and as the editing process began, became ill with cancer. She died in February of 2008. Her niece and author Annie Barrows finished up the editing process, hence the co-authorship.
Armchair Interviews says: If this reviewer, a librarian raves about this book—we must say: “Highly recommended.”
Author’s Web site: http://www.GuernseyLiterary.com
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