If my book group hadn’t chosen to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I’d not have picked it up on my own. The title was just too fluffy for me. But the content is not. Excuse me for saying it, but it is a delightful read! Authors Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows somehow tell vital truths about the horrors of living in an occupied warzone, while emphasizing the beauty of life that persists despite the war. The story unfolds completely through correspondence to, or from, Juliet Ashton, an author in search of a new topic to write about. We gradually come to know many (fictional) inhabitants of Guernsey Island, who survived German occupation during World War II and forged sturdy friendships in the process.
Early on in the novel, we learn how the friends are caught in the act of returning home after curfew from a pig roast, an activity definitely not sanctioned by the Nazi occupiers. Elizabeth, perhaps the most colorful character of the book, makes up an impromptu book discussion group as the excuse for why the group lost track of time, and manages to save them from arrest. Thus, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is born.
Discussing this scene led my group to note that we didn’t have our own name, and we wanted one. We ultimately settled on “BookSisters,” but for a while I thought maybe we should choose the "Kalamazoo Literary and Food Feast Society.”
Catch Diane Rehm on NPR, when she discusses this novel on her next Readers’ Review show.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society