Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Guernsey is a small Island in the English Channel that was controlled for five years by German forces during World War II. After the war, a young female British author, Juliet Ashton, finds herself unwillingly on a book tour to promote her book, Izzy Bickerstaff Goes To War. She's tired of the war, tired of writing under a pseudonym and tired of trying to be funny and lighthearted about such a horrible topic. Unfortunately, her mind draws a blank when it comes to knowing what else to write about. All of this information is delightfully given through amusing letters to her editor, Sidney.

While on tour, she receives a letter written by Dawsey Adams, a native of Guernsey, who has stumbled across her name written in a book by Charles Lamb. Seeking more information on this author, Juliet and Dawsey begin a correspondence that soon involves a dozen or so members of what is known as the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The letters include informations about the conditions during the War, zany character sketches that Island life seems to be best at producing and an emerging story that Juliet eventually realizes is her next book topic. To gather more information for her book, she decides to travel to Guernsey to meet these people she has come to know through letters face-to-face.

I have to include one fabulous quote. It will put a smile on the face of any blogger that has risked a meeting with a fellow blogger for the first time:

As the mail boat lurched into the harbor, I saw St. Peter Port rising up from the sea on terraces, with a church on the top like a cake decoration, and I realized that my heart was galloping. As much as I tried to persuade myself it was the thrill of the scenery, I knew better. All those people I've come to know and even love a little, waiting to see -- me. And I, without any paper to hide behind. Sidney, in these past two or three years, I have become better at writing than living -- and think what you do to my writing. On the page, I'm perfectly charming, but that's just a trick I learned. It has nothing to do with me. At least, that's what I was thinking as the mail boat came toward the pier. I had a cowardly impulse to throw my red cape overboard and pretend I was someone else.

In spite of it's long and confusing title, this is a book I happily recommend to everyone. It's chaming, uplifting, well written, funny, clean, historical, romantic and, best of all...a very easy read. I've read a few disparaging reviews that attack the book for being World War II fluff or not an accurate representation of what a female author in 1946 would sound like in letters. To them I say...fiddlesticks. If you want the nitty gritty of World War II or a proper British tone, have at a long list of other books already available.

If, however, you want to jump into small-town life on Guernsey, remember the thrill of letter writing, and enjoy a collaborative "na-na-na-na-na-na!" at resident busy-body Adelaide Addison - read this book! I have a happy hunch you won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

Noodle said...

I am so glad you recommended this! It is on our ARC giveaway shelf at my bookstore, and I waffled on getting it just a couple of days ago. I definitely will now!