World War II is over. Juliet’s war time series has been turned into a book with great success. Her editor and close friend Sydney is pushing her for new content to publish. But Juliet is lacking inspiration. Her imagination is as worn and grey as her flat in London.
Unexpectedly, she receives a letter from Dawsey, a stranger from the Isle of Guernsey. He is in possession of one of her old books by a favorite author. Her margin notes in the book inspired him to write her with questions. In their correspondence he mentions the island’s book club oddly named The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Before she knows it, Juliet is corresponding with several other members of the society. Their letters spark an idea for a new book using the group’s story of their resistance of the German occupation during the war.
Soon letters are not enough and Juliet heads to the island to continue her research. Only, she quickly finds her life entwining with those of her lettered friends. Not to mention, Juliet finds herself intrigued by Elizabeth central figure they all speak of with love.
I know, I know, I’m way behind everyone else in discovering The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE I HAD NEVER READ THIS BOOK?!?! I blame my stubbornness in resisting jumping on bandwagons. However, I was also a bit scared that the book wouldn’t live up to its’ hype. Fellow readers, you know there is nothing worse than a disappointing book. But when I found it on sale and with the film adaptation coming out this year, I decided to carpe diem.
This book completely lives up to its’ hype, ya’ll. I wasn’t even half way through before I realized this would be a book I would read over and over again. I was a little worried about how well the epistolary format would be able to tell a great story. But, the letters so completely capture each characters personalities and idiosyncrasies, that they began to feel like real people to me. I laughed so hard many times throughout this tale.
Juliet is such a relatable heroine, but as the book progressed, I found a new hero in Elizabeth, just like Juliet did. As much as I fell in love with the individual characters of Amelia, Dawsey, Sydney, Sophia, Susan, Booker, Eben and others, I fell hardest for Isola. She is one of the most original, unintentionally hilarious people I’ve ever met in the pages of a book. But altogether, these people who populate Juliet’s life both on the island and in London, made me wish I could be her.
Guernsey of the Channel Islands is just as much a character in the book as the men and women who live there. I could picture it in my mind’s eye, feel the sea breeze, and the plucky, hardy nature of the isle itself. It definitely was one of my favorite armchair travels to date.
I also really enjoyed the history included in the story. I knew nothing of the fate of the Channel Islands during WWII. Honestly, I never even thought about it. Though the German occupation it experienced was rough, it wasn’t near the tragedy as what was occurring on the European mainland. Though the Germans are the enemy and some of their actions are despicable, this book also humanizes them in a way, that feels acceptable. In fact, it helped me realize again that the enemy is not always our enemy. That there are good, decent humans often on the other side who just happen to find themselves caught up in events beyond their control.
So, if you can’t tell, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is going on my list of all time favorite books. If you are an idiot, like I have been, and haven’t read it yet, run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore. I may even read it again before the movie releases.