The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society charms you to read ceaselessly all the way to its lovely and reluctant end. Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between England and France, slipped off the pages; it permeated my thoughts with salty air and the rushing of tall grass. I became one of the characters, tea cup perched on knees, attending readings that the literary society held each fortnight during the German occupation of the islands in World War II.
To say Guernsey Literary is a light read would be a bit of a misnomer. Easy reading yes, but marked throughout with reminders of the humanity’s darkness. This curious book was a delightful escape that somehow drew parallels to my own hardship and newly made road to recovery. The story of the book unfolds in the form of correspondence to or from the protagonist, Juliet, who discusses her research of the German occupation, her romances, and friendships. She captures loss and healing as beautifully as she paints images of one character’s memory of purple, red, and gold skies. She easily portrays how books became entwined with lives—helping neighbors bond with each other, lift spirits during wartime, and raise their intellectual engagement.
Co-written by Annie Barrows and her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a book about hope. Post-war Europe in the rebuilding years will touch on many readers who have lost or experienced the kind of tragedy that leaves a shadow in the corners of the mind. The idyllic island setting, with its coasts, fields, cottages, and simple people, are reminders of beauty gained through hardship.
Selfishly, I fear lending this book. You will have to purchase your own copy!