Book review – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

This book was recommended to me a few times on this very blog, and I spotted it in my local library so decided to try it out. I must admit that the ridiculously unsnappy title did put me off at first but I’m glad I could see past that…

Juliet is a 32 year old writer living in London in the 1940s. By a strange twist of fate she ends up corresponding with the Literary Society of the book’s title, finding out much about them and their lives in Guernsey, including tales of their experiences during the war.

The book is told entirely in letters, mainly to and from Juliet, but there are lots of different letter writers, with some people penning just one letter that appears in the novel. I did find that the voice used in all the letters was similar, but it is clear throughout who is writing to who. We find out early on that Juliet is a successful writer, but she is suffering from a case
guernseyof writer’s block, but she finds herself inspired by the tales she receives from Guernsey and the experiences of the members of the Literary Society.

I found this book sweet, charming, and very endearing. The characters are warm and funny, and the epistolary form of the novel works well and lets the story build naturally. We find out about Juliet’s younger days as well as about the lives of the islanders who have interesting tales to tell.

I did, however, find that I wasn’t hugely gripped by the story. I really enjoyed it whenever I was reading it, but I was never desperate to pick it up again, and when I did it would take me a little while to get back into it. I think all the little stories of individuals in the book maybe prevented me from engaging with it fully. Overall it was a really nice book to read but I did think it lacked a little something to keep me completely hooked.

My rating: 7 out of 10


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