Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

This book has been on my wish list for some time. Mainly I think because of the title! But also because of the story. While staying in the guest flat where my parents live, and checking the small book shelf they have there (people who stay leave books behind) I found this one to my surprise. I grabbed it immediately, and started to read.

It starts in January 1946 in London, just after the end of the Second World War. Juliet Ashton is a well-known writer who wrote column under the pseudonym Izzy Bickerstaff during the war years. Her friend and publisher, Sidney Stark, published them as a book, and she sets of for a promotion tour. However, now she is looking for something else to bite into. By pure chance she receives a letter from a man namned Dawsey Adams on the island of Guernsey. One of the Channel Islands it was occupied during the war and life is very harsh. The islanders stick together and form a rather close community. Dawsey, who is a avid reader, comes across Juliet's name in a book written by Charles Lamb. He writes her a letter, to ask if she knows of any more books by him.

They start a correspondence, leading to the information that Dawsey is part of a reading group calling themselves The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This sets the whole story in motion and Juliet gets the background to the founding of the society, which goes back to the war years. It spreads and soon she is in contact with everyone in the society and gets their view on events, and some views from people outside! It leads to a mystery of what happened to one woman who were taken away by the Germans and her daughter still on the island. In the end Juliet has to go there to see for herself. I will not reveal how the story develops but life sometimes runs in mysterious ways.

The whole story is told by letters going back and forth to Juliet from the involved parties. It is a real fell good book, but with a serious under tone. A lovely book that makes you happy. Unfortunately, this is the only book by Shaffer, who passed away in 2008.


  1. I loved this book! It created such a lovely mood for me, and somehow made me feel hope for the world.

    Thanks for commenting about German authors at my latest post and giving me good suggestions,

  2. You are right. It was a very different "war story" and told in such a restraint way.
    Good luck with your German reading. If I was not so behind with all my reading I would join in.