Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Started this book at 30,000 feet up.

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

One way I find new books to read is by internet searching "best book club books."  This search usually returns great literature: smart, original, and content that makes you twitch because you just can't wait to discuss it.  This book kept turning up in my searches, but for months I left it alone because I couldn't get a sense of the book from the title.  I mean, honestly, that title.

There is a simple joy though, to opening up a book and having absolutely no idea what it's about or where it's headed.  I hate to rob you of that, but here we are.  I'll parse the title to get you past its obscurity and then leave the story to the pages of the book.

Guernsey is one of the English Channel Islands, and like much of Europe, was occupied by the Nazis during WWII.  The people on Guernsey formed a literary society (a book club) as a ruse for getting together with friends and neighbors when the Nazis otherwise did not permit it.  During the occupation, the people nearly starved and were limited to turnips and potatoes for survival, forced to give all their livestock to the Germans.  As every good book club hosts food, the friends got creative and made potato peel pie for their meetings out of their meager provisions.  After the war, a writer in England happens across this community’s survival story and sets out to write a book about their war-time stories.

And that's just the title.  The rest includes some of the most beloved characters I've ever read, witty and sarcastic dialogue, love triangles, quirky observations, surprises of both delight and dread, and references to various literary works that lovers of classic fiction will revel in.  The book is laugh-out-loud funny, and then all the sudden arrestingly sad in regards to WWII realities.  The story models the ability of the human spirit to laugh and cry in the same moment; these are my favorite kinds of stories.

Lastly, a twist: the entire book is written in letter-format. 

To catch up on what's happening at City Lights this week, click here.  
To order The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, click here.

1 comment:

Jilli Ruth said...

Loved that book so much it inspired me to blog about it last year!


It's a good feeling knowing other people have enjoyed a familiar book... it's like finding out you have mutual friends :)