The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
People have been telling me to read this book for months, and I've been waiting until just the right time--saving it as a treat, and hoping it would be really as good as people said it would be. I'm hesitant to rave about this book, though, because it's clear from some of the Goodreads reviews that not everyone loves it. I, however, truly enjoyed it.
I've always been drawn to epistolatory books--A Woman of Independent Means, 24 Charing Cross Road, and more recently, Clara Callan. As a child, I was an an avid letter writer, and this habit served me well during the 3 years I lived in Japan (this was all before e-mail and affordable long-distance telephone rates). Further, I fell in love with my husband through love letters. (We were living in Japan, and I was unable to see him for a month after we first got together, because he had a friend visiting from England, and she had a crush on him...so he waited until the end of her visit to tell her about me...and in the meantime, we wrote passionate letters to each other.)
One of the Goodreads critics of the Guernsey Literary Society commented that no good writer can truly develop a character through letters. I beg to differ. I find that letters are a wonderful way to get to know someone.
At any rate, I loved this story and its quirky, spunky characters. True, it might have been unrealistic for Kit to want to live with Juliet instead of the people who raised her...and yes, the characters might have been independent and progressive for their time...but this was all part of the book's charm for me. One naysayer said that an educated English writer would not have given a second thought to a letter from a Channel Islands pig farmer. These reviewers remind me of a woman in a book group years ago, who would often criticize books by saying "I just can't believe that would really happen!" Well, it didn't. It's called fiction. And sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
And anyone who doesn't believe that all the quirky characters in this book could exist in one place has never lived in a small town (or watched "The Vicar of Dibley").
If you enjoy reading letters (the most important criterion, in my mind) and stories about friendship, books, and love winning out over class and creed, you will enjoy The Guernsey Literay and Potato Pie Peel Society.
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