Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review of the Day: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


The ever-perky Juliet Ashton is in a slump after the success of her book, Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War, a collection of her popular, London-during-the-Blitz newspaper columns.  Looking for love – and an idea for a new book – leaves Juliet torn between a post-war fling with a dashing American publisher and her first-hand investigation of the German occupation of the Channel Island of Guernsey.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is told through a series of lively letters among the many characters, primarily Juliet, her editor, and a group of Guernsey residents who survived the war.  Juliet is delightful and witty without being cloying, the islanders are quirky and charming, and the supporting characters do their part as straight men to the comedians.

There are a few places where the epistolary structure teeters – where an important story point or key transition too perfectly arrives in the morning post, just in time to move the narrative forward.  But the book is so short and the story moves along at such a quick pace that it is easy to rush past without noticing these minor flaws.

Mary Ann Shaffer wrote the book after years of researching the not widely known history of Guernsey’s occupation during World War II.  She includes horrific details of the war, including slave labor, executions, collaboration, and concentration camps, but telling the story from the post-war perspective provides needed distance, and the humor and cheerfulness of her characters make the darker themes tolerable.  Shaffer’s niece, Annie Barrows, finished the book when her aunt became too ill to complete it.

OTHER REVIEWS

So Many Precious Book, So Little Time

(If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


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