I’m going to be honest, right up front. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, or books set in the 1940s. I find them dreary and a bit depressing for some reason. I’ve had Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society recommended to me a few times and hadn’t read it for just that reason. However, it was the chosen book for our book club this month, so I gave it a go.
Delightful. That’s the word that keeps coming to mind when I think of this book. Delightful is not really a word I use in my every day vocabulary, but it keeps coming up with this book. I’ve mentioned in other book reviews how I love to find sentences in books that speak to me. I write them down so I can look them over, and ponder them later. In this book, I’d done that 3 times before I even hit page 11! I knew it was going to be a good one. I’ll share the ones I loved most through this post… they’re the highlighted text. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them… leave a comment at the bottom of the review!
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book and that tiny thing will lead you into another book and another bit there will lead you on to a third book. It’s geometrically progressive all with no end in sight and no for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
The book is set on Guernsey Island just after the German occupation. A woman, living in London, receives a letter from someone living on the island, who found one of her books. He goes on to tell her about his favorite author, and asks, since she lives in London would she be willing to find and send him an autobiography of his favorite author. This letter turns into multiple letters from a group of friends on the island to this woman ~ who happens to be an author herself.
She’s struggling to find a topic for her second book. Her first book was a compilation of newspaper columns she’d written during the way. She wants to come up with something different to write about. One of the first letters she receives from the people on Guernsey tells her the story of how their literary society came into being during the occupation. She is quickly enamored by the people of Guernsey, and decides to make a visit to meet them in person.
“I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to or worse someone I can’t be silent with.”
Once on Guernsey the story opens up, the relationships build, the characters became clear as day. Even though she is now with the people she’s been corresponding with, the book continues in letter format. It becomes easy to tell who is writing who, the writing is clear and vibrant, with each character having a very clear and distinct voice.
The thing I found so surprising, from the very first letter was how fiesty the women are. I had always pictured in my head, quiet, timid women in this time period, these letters were hysterical, and filled with energy and a vibrancy I hadn’t expected. Each and every time I picked up this book I smiled, not because there was anything funny being written, though at times I did laugh out loud, but because the book just made me feel good. It was like transporting yourself to a happy place, where you were eager to see new friends you’d made.
Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers how delightful if that were true.
I definitely recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I’ll also give you another little tip… though I’m not an audiobook person I’ve heard time and time again people rave about the audiobook version of this book. So, if you are an audiobook person, this is probably one you want to listen to! You can pick this book up in paperback, kindle version, hard cover or audiobook at Amazon.com.