Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blog Tour and Review - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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

Hardcover publisher 7/08, paperback 5/09
304 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My thoughts:

This book was an absolute delight from start to finish. I've been reading rave reviews about it since last year, and I'll admit I didn't believe it could possibly be as good as everyone kept saying it was. Well, I'm here to tell you that I was wrong - it's that good.

Books written in letter form can be very hit-or-miss for me. Often I find myself drifting off while reading, because the letters just don't hold my attention. In this case, the I think the authors completely nailed it. Each character has a distinct voice, and I found myself looking forward to the next letter from Dawsey, or Isola, or Amelia. With each letter, I'd think I had found a new favorite character, until the next letter, and the next character, and I fell in love all over again. They felt like real people, and I wished I could meet them, and chat in real life.

"Spring is nearly here. I'm almost warm in my puddle of sunshine. And down the street - I'm not averting my eyes now - a man in a patched jumper is painting the door to his house sky blue. Two small boys, who have been walloping one another with sticks, are begging him to let them help. He is giving them a tiny brush apiece. So - perhaps there is an end to war."

I love novels that are able to tell a story about a specific period in history in a fresh way, and this book was a great example. I've read a LOT of books about WWII, but this is the first time I've read about the German occupation of the Channel Islands, and I was fascinated. The authors really brought the history to life, for me, with their "eyewitness" accounts of the occupation. I found myself alternately laughing and in tears as the Society told their stories of hardship and friendship.

"Would you like to know of my first sight of the Germans? I will use adjectives to make it more lively. I don't usually - I favor stark facts."

I truly loved this novel. I can't imagine it won't be on my list of favorites for the year. While it is about the war, it is ultimately about friendship, and making it through the hard times, and how reading can be a light in the darkest of times. If you haven't read it yet, go get it! It's a beautiful, beautiful book!

"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason that sheer enjoyment."

Finished: 8/11/09
Source: TLC Book Tours/publisher
Rating: 9/10

About the authors:

Annie Barrows is the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half. She lives in northern California.

Visit Annie’s website HERE.

Her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Read an excerpt of the book HERE.

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away UP TO FIVE copies of the book!! I will give away one copy for every 10 comments I recieve, up to FIVE copies!! So, tell your friends - the more entries I get, the more I can give away! To enter, leave a comment with your email address on this post. The contest will last until next Wednesday, August 19, and I will announce the winners on Thursday, August 20. Good luck!!


Serena said...

I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad to see it didn't disappoint you either!

bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was wonderful, too - I hated for it to end.

Kristen M. said...

I actually like books written as letters ... they have more movement and more identifiable voices for me. Have you read 84, Charing Cross Road? It's compiled from letters as well. I would love a copy of my own of this book ... count me in!

mar10123 said...

Kristen - I also enjoyed 84 Charing Cross Road - and have you read Ella Minnow Pea? I may have to add TGL&PPS to my list of recommends for Contemporary Lit!

trish said...

So glad you liked this book! I was surprised how much I liked it, too. :)

Thanks for a very thoughtful review!

raych said...

I loved this book so hard. But it's over-priced at my used-book store so I'm still waiting to own my own copy.

M. said...

I recommended this to my bookclub but it was rejected - because so many members had already read it! And every one loved it.

Thanks for offering a chance to win a copy.

Nikola said...

Amazing! I would love to be taken into consideration!

I would also like to invite you to my blog's giveaway - the more the merrier!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I loved this. I borrowed it from the library and I've wanted to get my own copy ever since.

Hazra said...

Oh, I'm dying to read this book. Everybody has had nothing but compliments for it.

Anna said...

I adored this book, and I'm glad you loved it, too. Would it be okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations?

Diary of an Eccentric

soleil said...

i saw this book at the airport and it sounded really good but then when i got home i couldn't remember the title.
your review reminded me of this book and now i can put it on my tbr list. it sounds really really good.

windycindy said...

Hello, I have read many good things about this book! I would appreciate being entered in your drawing.
Many thanks.....Cindi

Carrie said...

I just finished reading this book and agree with you in every way! We're highlighting this book in our 5 Minutes for Books bookclub the first week in September. Come link up this post then! It's fun to hear your thoughts.

Samantha Bagood said...

I've heard so many good things about this! It sounds great and absolutely lovely. I started this in the bookstore, but I didn't have time to finish it. From what I've read so for, I felt like I was entering a beautiful community of book lovers. I'd love to own it, so please enter me:


Unknown said...

Yay! This is on my TBR list.

Rhoda said...

This book sounds wonderful so I look forward to reading it. I love reading your reviews; you have such thoughtful comments.

Zibilee said...

I've read nothing but positive things about this book, and after all these good reviews (including yours) I don't see how I could possibly pass this book up. I am planning on getting a copy in my next book purchase, and trying to get my book club to get on board and read it as well. From what I've heard, it garners some great discussions. Glad you enjoyed this book so much, I can't wait to get to it!

bookshelves said...

I have so many books, I surely need some new bookshelves too.

Mel u said...

I just read this book a few days ago and I totally loved it-I learned so much from it about WWII on the island of Guernsey