38. - 501.) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – Journalist and author Juliet Ashton has been worn out by WW II. Early in 1946, as she is traveling around England promoting her collection of war columns, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams in Gurnsey who has read a book of essays by Charles Lamb that she had once owned and is writing to her to see if she can provide him with more information on Lamb. He mentions a roast pig dinner brought about the creation of the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society during the German occupation. Thus begins a correspondence that swiftly expands to other members of the Society. Juliet is enchanted and fascinated by the stories of the Society. The book is written in the form of letters between the characters. (It is a type of book I could write for it does not use dialogue to tell the story.) Searching for the theme of a new book and retained by the Times to write a series of articles on reading and books she is drawn to the Guernsey Society. On the island she is captured by the members of the Society – Isola (maker of potions), Dawsey (farmer / quarryman / labourer), Amelia (a favourite form of Aunt), Eben (woodcarver). Will (inventor of potato peel pie and electric clothespins) and Kit (the 4 year old daughter of Elizabeth and a German Army doctor). Juliet is fascinated by the brave and outspoken Elizabeth who has been taken to a concentration camp for helping harbour an escaped Todt worker and is one of Europe’s missing millions. The Londoner Juliet joyfully abandons herself to Guernsey life. The stories of the Occupation are by turn – sad, uplifting, heart wrenching. All are vivid. The book took abit of time to get my interest but once the letters from Guernsey started coming I was captivated. The members of the Society are so vivid you long to attend a meeting. I rushed from page to page longing, sometimes fearing, to know what happened next or in the past. There is no manufactured drama. There are the mini dramas of everyday life during a great war. I was reminded of growing up at Meskanaw amidst such a close knit community. It is a wonderful experience to be taken to a world of colourful new characters. I was reminded of the series of stories from the Hebrides written by Lillian Beckwith. After the grimness of A Most Wanted Man it was good to read a book of the triumph of the human spirit. The use of letters, sometimes within the same day, reminded me how we currently use email and texting to communicate in writing. I expect a generation from now there will be an equally captivating book about email exchanges. A great book. I did wonder about the lack of a Resistance organization on Guernsey. (Sept. 19/09) (Second Most Intersting of 2009)
- Bill Selnes
- Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
- I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.