Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I've got a confession: I judged this book by it's title. For some reason, the title made me think it was going to be one of those silly books about how great it was to be southern or an old woman or something like that which meant that it was a frou frou book and I hate those. Friends kept recommending the book. Everywhere I went I saw good reviews on the book. So I finally broke down and read the book. Well, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was anything but frou frou. It takes place in 1946 and focuses mainly on Juliet Ashton who is a writer. Juliet became famous on a series of humorous war articles she wrote during the war. Now, she's looking for a new topic to write about for her next book. One day she receives a letter from a stranger. The man had came into a possession of an old book of poetry written by Charles Lamb that she'd once owned (her name and address were written inside the book). He hoped that Juliet might be able to tell him if Mr. Lamb had written any more books. They start corresponding and she learns that he is a member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. He explains to her that it is a book club that was started when he and his friends were out past curfew one night during the German occupation of Guernsey, got caught and, because they had been roasting an illegal pig, they needed an alibi. Juliet is intrigued by the story and Dawsey gets the other members to start writing Juliet and telling her their stories. And that's where Juliet finds the topic for her next book.

The book is written in the form of letters back and forth between the different characters. In this case, it allowed the authors to give each character his/her own voice. The authors show a side of war that we don't often see in books - that of the everyday people in towns that were occupied and what war does to them. These people were forced to give up their homes, their food, really their freedom, to enemy soldiers. They weren't soldiers fighting in their war. Yet, they ended up fighting their own battles for survival. At the same time, they learned that not all the enemy soldiers were really enemies. They were people like them caught up in a war that they didn't want to be fighting.

So, I must join the leagues of others in recommending this book. Just don't start reading it late at night because once you get started, you might not be able to stop.


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