guernseyliterary“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008); 274 pages.

Started reading December 21, finished reading December 24.

This is a terrific book. Thanks to blog reader Rose for recommending it.

Do not be deterred by the title (the potato thing has very little to do with the book) or the fact that that the whole thing is in the form of correspondence. It sounds a bit hokey and I thought I’d get tired of the format in about five minutes, but I didn’t at all– in fact I tore through this book in just a few sittings. I do love historical fiction– I always get completely swept up in the story, and enjoy learning about some time/place that ordinarily I wouldn’t be thinking much about. In this case: 1946 Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. The book is almost entirely comprised of the letters of Juliet Ashton, Londoner and author of a humorous newspaper column during the war. She receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, resident of Guernsey, and they strike up a friendship. She’s intriugued by him, his literary group (that would be the society in the title), and the island, which was was occupied by the Germans and subsequently cut off from the rest of the world for five years during the war.

The writing is great– Juliet is a terrific character, very charming and believable– and the plot moves along nicely. The literary society of the title is actually a theme throughout the whole book, and there is much discussion about the Guernsey book club and how it–really, the excuse for comraderie– helped keep them going during the war. My only complaint is that I thought it all ended a bit abruptly, but that may have been because I read the entire second half in one sitting. I still recommend this novel completely– so if you read it, let me know what you think, especially about the ending.