The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Dial Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-385-34099-1.
Reviewed by Katherine Misegades
Posted on 09/01/2008

Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Mainstream

Guernsey, an island in the English Channel, was occupied by the Germans during most of World War II. For five years, the islanders lived in fear, danger, and deprivation while they were out of contact with the rest of the world. By the time they were liberated, though abused and starving, the islanders had forged enriching friendships out of their hardship and their need to protect each other.

This novel is a good example of fiction presenting facts in a more effective way than non-fiction can. I was absorbed into the experiences of the characters, and I will remember the historical experience with more than a precise memory of bare facts.

The story is told in a series of letters between a young writer, Juliet Ashton, in 1946 London and her close friends, in addition to the members of the literary society on the island of Guernsey. The letters are witty, charming, engrossing, and satisfying. The story is so well written that it may become one of those durable books that is read year after year and rediscovered by each generation of readers—a book that could become a classic.

Mary Ann Shaffer researched and wrote this book, then fell ill. Her niece, Annie Barrows, completed the work. It was published several months after Shaffer died, but, through her book, she left an enriching legacy to us all.

(See other reviews of this book, here and here)

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