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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie…

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008)

by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,411922199 (4.15)1 / 985
  1. 440
    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (khuggard, DetailMuse, Cecilturtle, helgagrace, Sodapop, BasilBlue, kraaivrouw)
    khuggard: Another tale about book lovers who come together through letters, with the same post-war England setting.
    Sodapop: A Non-fiction story about book lovers told via their letters.
    BasilBlue: A book about books and booklovers for booklovers that incidentally has a real flavor of the late 40s and early 50s.
    kraaivrouw: Another book about people who connect via their love of books and reading.
  2. 291
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (writemeg)
    writemeg: Another deeply affecting, beautiful and heartbreaking story of books, love, small kindness and resilience during World War II.
  3. 110
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories are bittersweet - tales of hardship, prejudice and hope although they are set in very different places and very different times. Fried Green Tomatoes jumps around but describes life, race relations and murder in a small Southern town during the Great Depression. Shaffer's novel deals with the occupation (and its aftermath) of the small Channel Island of Guernsey during WWII.… (more)
  4. 91
    The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (Anonymous user, mysterymax)
    Anonymous user: Both novels reflect on World War II from small, seaside towns, one an island in Europe, the other a small town in Cape Cod. The female leads are unique and interesting and are surrounded by great small town people.
  5. 124
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (cransell)
  6. 103
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Voracious_Reader)
    Voracious_Reader: The writing styles and the authors' love for the written word connect both period pieces in my mind even though their plots are extremely different.
  7. 70
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Going in to the bookmobile to apologize for the disturbance created by one of her corgis, Queen Elizabeth II feels it would only be polite to check out a book. When she returns it, she checks out another . . . and then another. One of her pages becomes her abettor in the matter of securing books and reading them. Thus begins an amusing but also thought-provoking saga of how reading can change a person's habits and even outlook.… (more)
  8. 50
    The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards (jill123, BasilBlue)
    jill123: Though they are different in style and tone, both books are set in the Channel Islands during the Nazi Occupation. I enjoyed the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but I found Ebenezer Le Page to be an absolutely wonderful book. More complex and interesting than the Potato Peel Society.… (more)
    BasilBlue: Although written in a more elegantly sparse style, this book covers much the same territory, geographically and emotionally.
  9. 51
    Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (rosylibrarian)
  10. 62
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Limelite)
    Limelite: Also an epistolary novel. Also about how community can triumph over debilitating circumstance.
  11. 62
    The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher (MyriadBooks)
  12. 30
    Miss Buncle by D.E. Stevenson (wandering_star)
  13. 41
    Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (vulgarboatman)
    vulgarboatman: Similar themes of a journalist discovering the layers of secrets around a mystery from WWII, along with an exploration of the effect of these events on the survivors, their families, and ultimately on the journalist herself.
  14. 30
    Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (nancyewhite)
  15. 30
    The Dig by John Preston (CatyM)
  16. 42
    A Place of Hiding by Elizabeth George (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books deal with the occupation of Guernsey by the Nazis.
  17. 31
    A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (betsytacy)
    betsytacy: This YA novel, set in 1936, features 16-year-old Sophie, a royal orphan growing up with her siblings and cousin in a shabby castle on island kingdom of Montmaray, somewhere off the coast of England. The island's strategic location draws the interest of the Nazis.… (more)
  18. 21
    The German Occupation of Jersey, 1940 - 1945 - Notes on the General Conditions. How the Population Fared by Ralph Mollet (KayCliff)
  19. 10
    My Dear Bessie: A Love Story in Letters by Chris Barker (carriehh)
  20. 10
    Plenty by David Hare (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Both capture the desperation of post-war England in their own unique ways.

(see all 39 recommendations)


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English (892)  French (14)  Spanish (6)  Catalan (5)  Dutch (3)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (930)
Showing 1-5 of 892 (next | show all)
A little hard to get into at first, with the letters, but in the end ended up being a great read. Really made me think about the art of writing letters. ( )
  ncgabby13 | Mar 24, 2015 |
Great read! A truly inventive way to tell a little-known chapter of WWII. ( )
  Ginnywoolf | Mar 22, 2015 |
I really liked this book. It is a series of letters written by several different characters. It takes place after WWII, and is about an author who is going to write a book about the German occupation of the island of Guernsey. The book is a good historical novel - with just a little romance thrown in for good measure. ( )
  peggy.short | Mar 6, 2015 |
I have been avoiding the lure of this book's interesting title for many years. The title always made me curious, but something about further exploration always pushed me away. It was a short, easy read, and I enjoyed the epistolary nature of the novel and found the main character charming and likeable. I did not know that the book would delve graphically into WWII atrocities, so that was an unwelcome surprise. I have a strong dislike of literate related to WWs, and this was the second WW novel in a row I accidentally read! ( )
  eslee | Mar 1, 2015 |
Frivolous with scant historical details of the wartime occupation of Guernsey - why bother using its interesting history as the backdrop? -, the novel relies on the general tendencies of readers to love
- other readers,
- quirky Britons in pastoral village settings and
- the idealisation of good-times-gone-by of handwritten letters,
in order to overlook its flaws of weak characterisations and forced epistolary style.

As forgiving as the epistolary style of writing may be in regards to plot reveals/tricks of memory, it is a harsh bedfellow when it comes to several letter writers who all have the same voice and one distinct trait despite (presumed) education levels, occupations and relationships between the sender/receiver. It is especially harsher when you wish to eliminate printing some of the letters - who knows why - and so make up for it by awkwardly referencing the letters. (one star off)

The protagonist is a saint, she is a hands-on-hips, feisty woman who physically assaults people (with provocation which is generated just to show what a saint she can be before blowing up, and also to show how anybody who does not like her is evil) and yet is loved by almost everybody, especially the orphan child whom she wants to adopt immediately after learning about the death of the said orphans' mother who prefers her to everybody else who has ever raised her for the past four years. Other than her super-maternal abilities, any man who is not
- old with a grandchild,
- portrayed as having dubious taste in women with "round vacant eyes like a cow's" or "lantern jaw and tight-folded lips" as described maliciously by the protagonist who clearly thinks herself better than these women in terms of looks if not everything else, or
- homosexual, (I am all for having characters with a range of sexualities but this one was literally, "[The main protagonist and he] could never marry - because he was a homosexual.", let us have a one-line laugh about Oscar Wilde's plays, end of any references to his sexuality.)
will be romantically interested in her, be it a highly successful American publisher or a pig farmer. How terrible was her adolescent love woes? Very.

The other protagonist, who hovers in the background of all the letters, is made from the same ilk, supposed big-heart who manages to charm almost-everyone with her forthrightness and physically assaults the rest who then are clearly labelled Evil. Seriously, you know you are going to be freed in a few weeks and you cannot control yourself in the face of an abuse you have seen countlessly before already and decide to beat the abuser despite knowing you will be shot dead and thereby leaving your wartime-conceived daughter an orphan. It sounds more like a short-sighted woman with a short fuse than one who just cannot abide by any evil in the world. (one and a half star off for the reasons listed in the previous two paragraphs)

The foreword of the novel indicated that the author's niece had to step in and rewrite sections of the book as instructed by the editor after the author's health declined. One cannot help but wonder if the previous version would have less sap and predictability and more of the interesting historical details of Guernsey life while being occupied which the main author was interested in and researched. ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Feb 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 892 (next | show all)
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," written by the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, children's author Annie Barrows, stays within modest bounds, but is successful in ways many novels are not. This book won't change your life, but it will probably enchant you. And sometimes that's precisely what makes fiction worthwhile.
he Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society commemorates beautiful spirits who pass through our midst and hunker undercover through brutal times. Shaffer's Guernsey characters step from the past radiant with eccentricity and kindly humour, a comic version of the state of grace. They are innocents who have seen and suffered, without allowing evil to penetrate the rind of decency that guards their humanity.
You could be skeptical about the novel's improbabilities and its sanitized portrait of book clubs (doesn't anyone read trashy thrillers?), but you'd be missing the point. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a sweet, sentimental paean to books and those who love them.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Ann Shafferprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrows, Anniemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Boehmer, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duerden, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kapari-Jatta, JaanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mills, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norey, VirginiaBook Designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridelberg, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, GeorgeMapsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lovingly dedicated to my mother, Edna Fiery Morgan, and to my dear friend Julia Poppy Barrows, Fiery Cynthia mother
First words
8th January, 1946

Mr. Sidney, Stark, Publisher
Stephens & Stark Ltd.
21 St. James's Place
London S.W.1

Dear Sidney,

Susan Scott is a wonder. We sold over forty copies of the book, which was very pleasant, but much more thrilling from my standpoint was the food. Susan managed to procure ration coupons for icing sugar and real eggs for the meringue. If all her literary luncheons are going to achieve these heights, I won't mind touring about the country. Do you suppose that a lavish bonus could spur her on to butter? Let's try it—you may deduct the money from my royalties.
Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books. -Isola Pribby
Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life. -Isola Pribby
Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true. -Juliet
I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with. -Juliet
I think you learn more if you're laughing at the same time. -John Booker
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Beginning at the end of WW2, this book is told through the form of letter between writer Juliet Ashton and her friends. Juliet initially receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey asking for more books. She becomes so in love with stories and descriptions of life in Guernsey that she decides to go herself. Through the letters she sends home and the letters from her new friends the stories of people's lives are revealed. This book points out that the lives of people were more important than the formality of the writing.

This book may not have the most literary value bu there were so many allusions to books that I couldn't keep track. It made me realize that I had really not read that many books. It also was a book that made me want to learn more about people and not just be content with what's on the surface. The people in Guernsey were just so interesting.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385341008, Paperback)

January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island.… (more)

» see all 12 descriptions

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