What I’m Reading Wednesday

8 Jan


Let me introduce you to my new favorite book. Well, it’s at least in the top 5.

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is a historical novel written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, published in 2008.

If you judge this book by the title you might be confused, but trust me on this, it’s worth the read. I could not put it down and was sad when the story came to an end, because I wanted to continue to read the correspondence between the eccentric and lovable characters of Guernsey.

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” — The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Shaffer had traveled to England to research another book when she learned of the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II. She writes a beautiful and bittersweet story post-WWII through letters and telegrams between the characters — a small group of friends and neighbors who find comfort and support during a time of war through literature.

“The thing about books — and the thing that made them such a refuge for the islanders during the occupation — is that they take us out of our time and place and understanding, and transport us not just into the world of the story, but into the world of our fellow readers, who have stories of their own.” — Afterword

Shaffer’s novel was accepted for publication in 2006 but her health began to deteriorate during the rewriting process. She asked Barrows, her niece and children’s author, to finish the project.

This book found me nearly a year ago when my sister-in-law let me borrow it. Like many books placed in my hands, it went straight to the bookshelf, while I read more recent releases from the library.

Where-You-Go-BernadetteThe book’s style is very similar to the more recent release “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” by Maria Semple. It also includes similar humor and sarcasm, but with a much more serious tone during wartime.

The subject of Guernsey and WWII reminded me of a novel I read a couple years ago, “The Soldier’s Wife,” by Margaret Leroy. Both novels address the trials of falling in love with the enemy.

When I’m asked for book recommendations, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” will be one of the first titles I’ll suggest. And my hope is that this beautiful story will make it to the big screen!


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