- Fizzy Thoughts: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Monday, September 08, 2008


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2008
274 pages

After I read the first letter from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society I was having flashbacks to 84 Charing Cross Road. There was mention of WWII, and rationing coupons, and well, it was in letter format, and I thought, oh crap, it's going to try and follow in 84's footsteps. Luckily, my oh crap was premature.

I loved this book. I know that my adoration of such a popular book is sort of contrary to my Booking Through Thursday post from last week, but oh well.

Some of the reasons why I'm in love with the book, despite its obnoxiously long title, which I swear I will never type again:

Format. Yes, I like the story told in letters, even if it has been done before. I think the author(s) did a wonderful job of evoking the 1940s, and the distinct personalities of all of the characters, and the feel of Guernsey, all through a series of letters.

I learned stuff. I never knew the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans during WWII. Did you? Do you even know where the Channel Islands are? (Besides the obvious answer of in the Channel.) I only had a vague idea. Now, I feel like I've been there. Actually, I want to move there, but that's not gonna happen. And have you ever heard of Todt slaves? Me either. I love books that work little bits of history in...it makes me want to hold the book up to my former grad school history professor and make snide comments about it being both more informative and more interesting than his class, and say things like nee-neer, nee-neer, nee-neer.

Friendship. This book has some great friendships happening.

Great lines.
"Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life."
"My aunt says she will never set foot in our house again, and Mother hasn't spoken to me since that day. I find it all very peaceful."
"They want to address the practical, moral and philosophical value of reading - spread out over three issues and by three different authors. I am to cover the philosophical side of the debate and so far my only thought is that reading keeps you from going gaga." I am particularly fond of this one.

The story. You're probably wondering what it's all about. That is, if you haven't read it already. Or seen it on someone else's blog. Basically, it's the story of a writer who begins to correspond with members of a literary society from the island of Guernsey. And it takes place in 1946. That's all you need to know. This is a story best left to the letter writers.

3 comment(s):

Skyblue Mesa PTO said...

This is on my TBR list. Did you know that the novel was written by the mother and then completed by the daughter when she passwed away (mid book)? I read that in a PaperCuts article.

Ti said...

Crud.. I am on PTO and the above post was posted by me. I forgot to sign out first.

marta said...

I'm almost finished and I loved it. I really liked the friendship shown in the letters. It felt a lot like peeling an onion because more and more came out about the personalities of the people as you read further in the book.

Did you know that this type of book is called 'epistolary'? I didn't. I was looking for a title of another book that was written in letter format and came across the word. Some new for me.

I was looking for "Fair and Tender Ladies" by Lee Smith. I got into her books a while back and I think this was my favorite. I'm not certain if you will like it but I loved the character. I also liked "Oral History" by her. I was into Southern women writers at the time.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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