The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society [and Giveaway!]

Posted 25 April, 2010 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 17 Comments

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Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyTitle: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published: 2008 Pages: 278
Genre: Fiction/Epistolary
Rating: 4.5/5

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What a name! For purposes of my sanity I’m shortening the name to The Potato Peel Book. Ahhh, yes, I feel the sanity washing over me.

World War II has just ended and author Juliet Ashton is on tour for her book Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War, but being in between writing projects has left her a little restless for something new to write about. One day she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams from the Channel Island of Guernsey explaining that he came into a possession of a collection of essays that previously belonged to Juliet. He notes that the book was a great comfort to him during the German Occupation of Guernsey when his only other source of solace was the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society he belonged to with several other islanders.

Juliet and Dawsey begin corresponding back and forth and soon Juliet is also corresponding with several other members of the society. Juliet looks to the Society for her next story, first to discuss the philosophical value of reading for The Times, but as she becomes more acquainted with the islanders she realizes that there are so many other stories that need to be shared. The Potato Peel Book is entirely composed of letters written during a nine-month period and through these letters Juliet (and I) learned what life was like during the war for the inhabitants of Guernsey we (Juliet and I) both fell a little bit in love with the members of the society.

I loved this book. It isn’t earth shattering and it wasn’t the best book I’ve read, but simply put it was just so nice. I know some people have a tough time with epistolary novels, but there’s something so romantic about reading the intimate details of someone’s thoughts and desires through the written word. I didn’t feel like each writer had his/her own distinctive voice (some more than others), but I did feel like by the end of the novel I really knew each of the characters and their desires. Dawsey is quiet and understated; I wish that Juliet and I were best friends and I can see how all the characters love her; Isola is quirky and mysterious and constantly made me laugh; little Kit is endearing, and Elizabeth–a character who is in some ways absent from the story is still such a colorful force within the book.

Even though this book is short and should be easy to read I ended up taking a long time with it. Part of me wanted to savor every bit of it. I didn’t want the letters to be over and I was sad when they were. The ending is fairly predictable but this book is just so comfortable. One of those curl up in a cozy spot and just let your mind be transported to another time type of books. This book has certainly made it’s way around the blogosphere and I actually read a copy that I bought for my step-mom two Christmases ago. It is one that I will continue to recommend to those looking for an engaging but not overly heavy book.

I’m counting this book as my “future classic” pick for the Classics Challenge. What I’ve found so interesting is that this book has been recommended by participants for a “future classic” more than any other book this year.

What was your last comfort read?

My sister Brooke has recently started her own Etsy shop, Paper Love by Brooke, for her card creations. Since this book is entirely written from letters I thought it would be fun to shamelessly promote my sister’s awesome notecards with a giveaway. She has generously agreed to make me four notecards and two bookmarks (one full-size and the other a corner marker). Book is not included–this is an entirely non-bookish giveaway!
Paper Love by Brooke
Paper Love by Brooke
Aren’t they delectable and adorable? I told her she was going to have to make one of those corner bookmarks for me too! She has other cute card creations at her Esty shop that you should definitely check out (including a few Mother’s Day cards). Yes, I’m shamefully promoting but whatev.
Truth is, the art of letter-writing seems kind of lost with the email age. And receiving email just isn’t as nice as receiving an unexpected letter in the mailbox. I used to be really good about writing letters and have boxes of those I’ve received over the years (some 20 years old). These notecards will make any recipient smile!

How to enter for the Four notecards and Two bookmarks:
1. Leave a comment below and tell me about the last snail mail letter you sent
2. Leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win
3. Giveaway open to anyone (don’t have to be a book blogger!)

I’ll draw a winner sometime by the end of next week (May 1st or 2nd or something?) :D

Much Love and Happy Reading,

17 Responses to “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society [and Giveaway!]”

  1. Those are adorable! I’ll definitely be entering the giveaway, but now I’m trying to remember when i last sent a snail mail letter. I included a long handwritten letter with my secret santa gift back in December (and by long, I mean several pages). Does that count?

    As for the book…I’m a bit scared about that one. Some part of me feels like I shoudl read it, especially as I’ve heard there’s a lot of literary references in it. But then I see words like “World War II” and my brain immediately starts to glaze over…I just don’t know. I’m trying not to add books to my TBR pile right now (it’s under 200!) so maybe I’ll just hold off temporarily…

  2. I am so excited about the giveaway, and I hope that whoever wins loves what I have created. It was my pleasure to create these for you, and of course I will make you more bookmarks.

    Good luck with the giveaway, and let me know if you would like to do it again sometime.

  3. That book has been sitting on my pile like for ages! I knew it has received lots of great reviews but I just haven’t got the mood of reading it yet… hopefully one day soon!

    I love the notecards and the bookmarks made by your sister! They’re beautiful! Well, the last snail mail letter I sent was actually an office letter to an event company. Please enter me if my answer qualifies for the giveaway. ;)

  4. That corner book mark is so beautiful. I would love to enter this competition. The last snail mail I sent to the bank to stop a direct debit. They seem to be the only ones I send these days as I speak to everyone else via Facebook.

    I am glad you loved this book. I read this and then followed it with 84 Charing Cross Road, which is also epistolary, though should be read with The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street too.

  5. The last letter I wrote was to a book blogging friend with whom I was pen palling. We’ve kind of petered off on it though because writing a letter by hand is hard these days. Your hand cramps up, time goes by and you can’t remember what you said or didn’t say…it was fun while we lasted, though! :)

    I think you know how to contact me!

  6. cj

    Do I still get to enter if I can’t remember the last letter I wrote?

    I’ve looked at the book numerous times but have yet to pick it up. You’ve pushed me a tad closer to doing so.

    Like the other Trish, you got my addy, right?


  7. The cards and bookmarks are adorable – I’ll be heading on over to check out the Etsy shop!

    The Potato Peel Book sounds right up my alley – I love WWII historical fiction.

    The last letter I wrote was to one of my bridesmaids on her birthday. I miss letter writing too and wish that I did it more often!

    peetswea01 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  8. I’m glad you enjoyed the Potato Book–so did I! I guess we haven’t really had a chance to talk about it. I definitely should have moved our meeting. Oh well! This was the perfect book to read when everything else was hectic and stressful. I really do think it should be made into a movie!

    Brooke’s bookmarks and cards are SO great! I love the corner one! I would definitely go to a class to learn how to make them :)

  9. Guernsey was such a great read. I’d been holding out on reading it because it was all over the blog-o-sphere, and I never dreamed it could live up to its accolades. Shows what I know! Good idea to add it to the Classic Challenge.

  10. *Amanda – You know, I have a hard time knowing what you’d like and what you wouldn’t. :/ Definitely not a war-ish type of book. Just nice and easy. And yes, your letter counts–several pages, huh? :)

    *Bermuda – Wasn’t this book great? And what a sweet friend to send your grieving friend a letter.

    *Brooke – Yay for bookmarks. :) Everyone loves that little corner one you made.

    *Melody – Save it for a lazy weekend that has rain in the forecast. I hope you do like it when you read it. And a letter to an event company? Interesting!

    *Vivienne – The corner bookmark is my favorite of the bunch, too. I’ll have to add 84 Charring Cross Road to my list!

    *Trish – LOL–I know about hand cramps. I guess if we were all used to writing letters our hands would be tougher. :P Thanks for coming by.

    *CJ – yes you can still enter! This will give you a good excuse to send a little note to a friend. :) Like I said, this book isn’t earth-shattering, but it is a nice read. Oh, and I have your email, of course.

    *Cindy – Thanks for stopping by. The notecards/bookmarks are even better in person!

    *Kristi – It’s always fun to receive a letter in the mail but a little bit of work to keep it going, unfortunately. And I hope you’ll try this book. Definitely worth the time.

    *Laura – I wish we could have talked about the book or that I could have gone to the meeting but I don’t think I finished the book for a week after y’all met. :( And I really like the corner bookmark, too!

    *Dolcebellezza – It took me a really long time to read Guernsey as well–for many of the same reasons as you but I’m so glad I did. A nice comfort read!

  11. The last snail letter I sent was to an online friend. She and I have always avoided email in favor of real letters, even though we met online (playing the same game that I met Mike in!)

    I have this book on my shelves. Maybe one day…

  12. I love letter writing and used to have many penpals I wrote to. Sadly, I’ve lost touch with many of them. I love epistolary style novels and loved Guernsey. I savored it also and didn’t want it to end. It’s one of my favorite books. Your sister is very talented and I love her bookmarks and cards. I’ll check out her etsy shop. The last letter I wrote was a thank you letter for a gift.


  13. I an easily answer your question! I have a son on an LDS mission, so I send him a snail mail letter every week, the latest one just last Tuesday. We send him emails too, but still, I believe he needs that real paper in his hand letter every week!

    Love those bookmarks!

    jenstusue AT yahoo

  14. I LOVED this book. You’re right, it was just a plain, simple book that was so moving. I still come back to it every now and pick it up and just read a couple of the letters and the ending. It’s one of my favorite books and I consider it a future classic too.