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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Paperback)

by Mary Ann Shaffer (Author), Annie Barrows (Author)

From Publishers Weekly

The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine
“Traditional without seeming stale, and romantic without being naïve” (San Francisco Chronicle), this epistolary novel, based on Mary Ann Shaffer’s painstaking, lifelong research, is a homage to booklovers and a nostalgic portrayal of an era. As her quirky, loveable characters cite the works of Shakespeare, Austen, and the Brontës, Shaffer subtly weaves those writers’ themes into her own narrative. However, it is the tragic stories of life under Nazi occupation that animate the novel and give it its urgency; furthermore, the novel explores the darker side of human nature without becoming maudlin. The Rocky Mountain News criticized the novel’s lighthearted tone and characterizations, but most critics agreed that, with its humor and optimism, Guernsey “affirms the power of books to nourish people during hard times” (Washington Post).
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

A page-turner!5
As an avid reader of WWII fiction, I admire books that portray the strength, resilience and determination of those who lived and persevered during those horrific world events. Writers who take the time to do their research really transport us into that era and allow us to gain a sense of what it was like for those who lived it. Shaffar and Barrows did such a marvelous job that I found it necessary to remind myself on more than one occasion that this was a work of fiction and not a collection of letters written between dear friends who actually lived in London and Guernsey!

History with Humor4
Again I was enlightened about WW II history, even though
there were some sad moments--the story teller was able
to find humorous tales to lightened the book. I enjoyed the book, and recommend it to anyone with an interest in these times of our history.

An Author's Legacy5
I finished this book this morning around 3 am. It was one of the first I purchased for my new Kindle last fall, but somehow could never get myself to jump into it. Last night I started and couldn't stop hitting "Next Page!" Using letters as the bones of the story isn't a new idea, I know. (I am a big fan of 84 Charing Cross.) However, each character's letters were so unique, it was easy and delightful to follow the plotlines. And, I have discovered a new heroine in the character of Elizabeth. What an amazing, free-spirited, passion-filled young woman!

So I sat here, bleary-eyed after little sleep, but immediately getting on the computer to find out more about Guernsey (being a farm girl I knew about the cows) and about Ms.Shaffer. I began planning a visit to The Channel Islands (at least a virtual one!) Then as I looked for information on the author, I was so saddened to find that Ms. Shaffer had passed away in 2008. Not only was this her first novel, it will be her last. She has left a legacy to be proud of.