Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Book Review

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffers and Annie Barrows
Dial Press Trade PB 2009
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This book is an Epistolary novel which means it consist of letters rather than a straight dramatic story.

Now I have read some reviews where the reviewers claim that the letters in this book were boring, the letters sent the reviewer to sleep, the letters jumped around and kept changing subject matter and other odd complaints.

Having read 84 Charing Cross Road, and now this wonderful little gem, I think I love Epistolary novels. I love these types of novels, because you get a real inside view to what the characters are thinking and feeling.

Most other dramatic novels just dont have the means to give you real emotions unless they are described second hand by another character and only what they see and hear from the first character who is emotional. So in a dramatic novel we get this >> Jane told him the truth. He was shocked and angry. After he left, Jane swore that she would not make that same mistake again.

As I have been told frequently on a favourite website >> Dont be shy, tell us how you really feel....

In a epistolary novel we would get the following >> Damn!! Damn!! Damn!! Did I really just open my big mouth and say that? God I can be so stupid. To tell him the truth so bluntly. He looks like he had no idea. That look he gave me - pure spite and malice. I guess he hates me now. And there he goes - stalking off as if he can't wait to get away. Well I guess I wont be making that mistake again.

Doesn't the personal first hand view give you a lot more more details and emotion about the situation?? I love it. Its easier to write as well. The established writers are always telling the newbie writes to write what you know - and they are right. It flows better when you write about something you have experienced.

Ok now, let's get back to the book.

First up, I really really enjoyed it.

I learnt heaps about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands during WW2. Normally I dont read WW2 novels but this book had such an unusual angle, it was just so interesting to read.

Juliet Ashton is a writer from London, England. Her flat was bombed and destroyed during the London Blitz and she lost everything. She had survived the war by writing a series of columms in the newspaper called Izzy Bickerstaff (an assumed name). At the end of the war these columns had been gathered together and published in a book called Izzy Bickerstaff goes to War It was a bestseller book for Juliet and for her publisher Stephens and Stark.

Now Juliet is looking for a new topic to write about. Before her apartment was been bombed, Juliet has sold some of her old second hand books. One of them was called The Selected Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb. This book had somehow ended up on the island of Guernsey Island where it was claimed by a young man named Dawsey Adams. Inside the book Juliet had written her name and address. The address being the location of the bombed out flat.

Dawsey wrote to Juliet to say thank you for the book and to ask if she could by any chance find any other books by Charles Lamb that could be sent to him?

Thus began a correspondence between Juliet, Dawsey and various other Guernsey Island people. Juliet was intrigued about the literary society that had been invented one night to save a group of islanders from prison when they were caught by germans on the road one night being out after curfew.

Elizabeth was a fast talker and she said they were members of a literary society and had been having discussions about books while eating a potato peel pie. They had completely forgotten the time and were really sorry.

Juliets correspondence with the Guernsey Literary society continues and expands to include other members - talking about about the books they read and the german occupation.

Eventually Juliet travels to Guernsey Island and meets the society members in person. Juliet continues writing letters to her friends and to her publisher detailing her adventures, the people she meets and the traditions and customs she finds on the island. Juliet settles down on the island and gets married. To whom - well you will have to read this book to find out.

I read this book for the Bibliophilic Challenge.


Marg said...

*not sure if previous comment went through or not**

I loved this book when I read it a while ago. I have lent it to a few friends, some avid readers, some not, and so far they have all enjoyed it.

Bobbie said...

I absolutely adored this book! I was so glad to see in your review that you enjoyed it also:)