Cover of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By: Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Imprint: Dial Press Trade Paperback

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385341004

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On Sale: | Pages: 304

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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.
A novel could hardly be designed more cunningly to appeal to a certain type of book lover than "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." It's a nifty little cloth whose warp is bibliophilia and whose weft is Anglophilia. Liberally embroidered in tastefully subdued colors are more sure-to-please elements: World War II and its aftermath; a high-spirited young woman looking for love; her need to choose between a rich, suave, American publisher and a poor, humble, unschooled farmer; Nazis, some of them good, most bad; motherless children; people who overcome homophobia.... I could not put the book down. I have recommended it to all my friends. I sniffled at various parts and frankly cried at the end. Over to you, Oprah.
I may be a sucker for catchy titles, but after reading a few pages of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” I knew the book was more than a light summer read.... Revealing much about the aftermath of World War II in England, the novel is at once an unlikely love story, a portrayal of heroism and survival, and a subtle homage to the bond forged by literature. As Amelia Maugery, a charter member of the Guernsey group, tells Juliet: “We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another.” Fellow bibliophiles can expect to identify with that bond and to find, over the course of the novel, the characters themselves becoming dearer and dearer.
—Charlotte Observer
"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.... What makes this novel lovely is its light touch and how effortless the writing seems.... This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It's as charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love.
—San Francisco Chronicle
The authors tell the book entirely through letters, diaries and telegrams — even after Juliet arrives on Guernsey — because Juliet's friends in London quickly join in the correspondence. This technique makes it easier to keep the huge cast of characters straight, although this is not a book for someone who doesn't like multiple points of view. "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" is a debut adult effort for the two authors. It is a first book for author Mary Ann Shaffer. Her co-author and niece, Annie Barrows, is the author of a children's series. They've done a good job bringing a little-known chapter of World War II to life; they tell a slightly bittersweet yet funny story.
—Denver Post
The details about Guernsey during the Occupation are fascinating.... The novel's story line is flimsy; Juliet's romantic endeavors aren't nearly as interesting as the historical background against which they're played. And the characters often feel contrived, serving only as a means to relate the authors' extensive research into the Occupation.... The true heart of the novel lies in the Guernsey residents' experiences, their tales of unimaginable hardship and resilience. Unfortunately, that's not quite enough to redeem this deeply flawed plot.
—Rocky Mountain News
Though it deals with a dark period in history, this first novel is an essentially sunny work. It affirms the power of books to nourish people enduring hard times -- not so surprising, since Mary Ann Shaffer, who died earlier this year, had a long career as a librarian, bookseller and editor.... 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.
—Washington Post
Although the novel is ultimately heartwarming (and what reader doesn't love a book about the redemptive power of books and reading?), it doesn't shy away from exploring some of the darker aspects of the war, including the cruelty of some German soldiers, the vulnerability of others and the horrors of the concentration camps. With a broad but well-developed cast of characters, a unique storytelling method and a firm grounding in a little-known front of World War II, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY will certainly spark lively discussion and moments of self-recognition at book clubs and literary societies everywhere.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is a labor of love, and it shows on almost every page. According to her biography, Mary Ann Shaffer became interested in the occupation of the Channel Islands in 1976, when she was stranded on a fogbound Guernsey and read “Jersey Under the Jackboot” while stuck at the airport. Her niece, Annie Barrows, is a children's author who helped her aunt finish the novel when Shaffer's health began to decline. Shaffer died earlier this year, and it's sad to think that someone who apparently treasured books so much will never see her own on a bookstore shelf. But readers will be grateful it found its way there, nonetheless.
—Christian Science Monitor
It is a bit unfocused, but in the main moves along smoothly, and its potato peel pie is a legitimate, if not terribly appetizing, dish that plays an actual role in the story (and in the Society of the title).... This is a Happily Ever After novel -- after, that is, Several Sorrows Are Endured. It is also a book-lover's delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary, to libraries personal and public, to bookstores and their owners, customers and contents...
—Chicago Sun-Times
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