The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I had been eying this book on bookshelves almost entirely since it first came out. I had heard others rave about it, yet every time I tried to pick it up, I didn’t see the hook. It’s really only by accident that I finally read it—and am glad I did.
I was desperate for new reading material, and again came across this one with the funny title. The description seemed mildly intriguing (an author in search of a new book idea stumbles across a literary society and a part of history that most never knew about), but mostly it seemed like the book was stalking me, cropping up in my consciousness randomly but repeatedly. I read the reviews on Goodreads, and saw people generally loved—no, raved—about the book, except for the people who hated it. That’s about as useful as most Goodreads reviews are, I must say. I wonder why I bother with them anymore.
Anyway, I finally downloaded a sample. That’s when my Kindle started getting ornery. The sample wouldn’t show up anywhere. I tried searching in my archives. I tried redownloading. I tried restarting. I did a search, seemed to have found it, and then, when I tried to access it, ended up buying the book somehow, upon which time both the full book and the sample appeared right where they belonged, all innocent-like. Enter curse words aimed at technology. I almost cancelled the order, but then I figured…well, I should at least read the sample and decide whether I would have bought the book anyhow.
So I read the sample. It was slow going at first, me being unused to epistolary novels as I am. It took a little to figure out who was who and what was what and whether I should care, but by the end of the sample, I found the story thus far charming but not entirely compelling. If I hadn’t already bought the book, I might not have continued.
And thus I learned one ought not to judge a book by its sample. Well, I was right about it being charming, but the compelling part came later. It takes a little while to develop a relationship with the characters—I suppose one ought to owe that to British reserve—but they are darling once you get to know them. The book deals with some heavy topics, namely German occupation of British isles, and what the people suffered, but the dark parts are snuck in so blithely in with the light you hardly notice.
Primarily, this book is like getting to sit in with an utterly adorable family. You learn a bit of history from the family elders, but essentially you’re too busy getting caught up in their shenanigans. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is the perfect kind of read to make you feel warm and cozy towards your fellow human beings, great for a leisurely, good time, so long as you don’t mind spending some time to become friends with everyone first.