Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Purchase from Angus and Robertson Bookworld

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society has a bit of everything. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s happy, it’s honest, but most importantly it’s a great story.

9781408810262The book is a collection of letters between Juliet and a group of people writing to her from different parts of the world. Her pen pals are different from one another, they each have their own unique eccentricities with one thing in common, their admiration for a well written piece of work.

It is one of those rare books that makes you feel invested in not just one of the characters, but all of them. You find yourself wanting to learn more about Guernsey and its’ people. While Juliet is the main protagonist of the novel, it is the character of Isola that kept me wanting to know more. She is eccentric, caring, interesting, and well, weird. From reading palms and head bumps to becoming Guernsey’s own Miss Marple, there is never a dull moment with Isola, but there certainly are a few laugh out loud ones.

” I have a stall at the market every week, where I sell my jam, vegetables and elixirs I make to restore manly ardour.” – Isola (50)

Though set post World War II, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not written from the common vantage point taken where the Allied countries being entirely wholesome while the Germans are bad, if not, malevolent people. The story shows there was good and bad on both sides. People can not simply be classified by the country they are from. People are different, unique, and a person has the ability to be both good and bad. This is a message true of World War II and it is still true now.

Sadly, Mary Ann Shaffer passed away before she could see her masterpiece in print. She enlisted the help of her niece Annie Barrows to rewrite sections of the novel during the editing process when she was too unwell to do so herself. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is her only published work.

I highly recommend this book to all readers. It really does have something for everyone. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have crafted a novel that reminds people about the importance of books, friendship, and that decency can be found in the most unexpected people.

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