AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
by Mary Ann Shaffer
Allen & Unwin. Adult Other. Hardcover rrp $29.95
Guest Reviewer - Anastasia Gonis
World War 2 is over. Coupons still rule people’s lives as Europe struggles to feed the starving. Hand-written letters continue to fly around the world, especially those of Juliet Ashton, a newspaper columnist during the war famous for her light-hearted and entertaining writing. While Juliet is on a promotional tour, she receives a letter from pig farmer, Dawsey Adams from Geurnsey, one of the Channel Islands, regarding a former book of hers that he has purchased. This begins a great correspondence, for she is assigned to write an article on the value of reading. Inspired by Dawsey’s letter, she sets out to discover more about the inhabitants of that island and their creation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Her, up till now, dull life starts spinning and all that she thought she was is reinvented by her relationship with the Geurnsey people.
This is one of the best books of its genre for 2008. The characters are engaging and realistic, even the ones you love to hate. Their simple yet simultaneously complex lives are original and at times deeply moving. The light-hearted letters exchanged by Juliet, her publisher, friends and the inhabitants of the island, are extremely entertaining and informative as is the generous flow of historical information that is relayed via the letters.
There is also an excellent feeling of time and place of war time London, the people’s experiences during the war, the way they survived, dressed and were entertained. The characters of this book will stay with the reader long after the cover closes, and will definitely be revisited time and time again.