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I live in New York City and I'm surrounded by books all day and when I go home I have more books waiting for me. Read my "About" page on top to see what I mean. I just want to share my book experiences and my love of all-things-books, with hopefully the occasional review thrown in. If you wish to contact me, the address is polishoutlanderATgmailDOTcom

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends – and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island – boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

That title sure is a mouthful. I always referred to it as the Potato book. I got this as a galley…two years ago! And I finally read it last month for book club at work. My friend at work had read it and loved it. She kept telling me to read it. And then my mom discovered the book a few months ago, and thinking that I lost my galley or gave it away, I actually gave her my friend’s galley copy (since she had a signed paperback already). And then soon after, I found mine. So last month, this was a book club pick. And I am so glad I finally got to read it.

This isn’t your typical war story.  It doesn’t involve battles and camps, or high ranking officials plotting the war. No war strategy. Just stories about people surviving. The stories here come from letters. The entire book is actually written in letters.

I thought I might have found that a bit confusing, trying to keep track of each character by the letter that they had written to Juliet, but over the course of the book, I was able to figure out who was who. It read seamlessly to me after the first few letters that Juliet had gotten from the members of the society.

And what a story! Nothing fancy, just, again, a story of surviving and making do with what has been laid upon your life, or for that matter, your shores. The society was actually founded by accident, by Elizabeth, a character whom we sadly do not get a chance to “see”, but rather get to know her through the stories that the members write about or tell Juliet. Elizabeth becomes an enigmatic character for that reason. She is built up as this person who seemed to hold this village together by herself. In some way, when Juliet goes to visit Guernsey and writes to her publisher about her own experiences, it’s as if she becomes another form of Elizabeth: she brings these people back together again through their past.

One interesting thing that was brought up during our book club discussion was the fact that Elizabeth consorted with the enemy, meaning that she fell in love with a German soldier, and he with her. The argument that someone brought up was that how could you do that? How could someone fall in love with the enemy? How is that possible? Another person argued the German soldier that was with Elizabeth didn’t want to be there anyway: he was only following orders, like so many of them were. That brought about a lively discussion during our lunch meeting.

This is a book for those who really love reading. Reading is what brought the society members together. It was truly a lovely read and I am so glad I did get to read it. I highly recommend it. It was a quick read but I felt like I really wanted to fly out to Guernsey and meet this cast of characters and hear their stories myself.

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