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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

     Here is a novel written entirely in personal letter format. It was co-authored by Mary Ann Schaffer, who became ill before the final editing process and her niece Annie Barrows, a children’s writer, who prepared the book for publication.

    The setting of the novel: Post World War II Guernsey Island, a part of the United Kingdom that was occupied by the Nazis during the war. The main character, writer Juliet Ashton, a straightforward and goodhearted woman in her early thirties who has had some literary success but now is searching for a new project. Her personal life is a mix of successful relationships (we read her correspondence with her close childhood friend and the friend’s older brother who also is Juliet’s publisher) and uncertainty (she is in a whirlwind courtship with an attractive but overbearing American publisher.) Then Juliet receives a letter from a Mr. Dawsey Adams, the purchaser of a book about Charles Lamb once owned by Juliet. Juliet is intrigued when she finds out that Dawsey and his friends formed a literary society during the German occupation; its original purpose was to provide relief from the restraints on their lives. Surprisingly, many of these members who never read much before now enjoyed it. In short order, several other society members begin writing to Juliet about their experiences. Juliet decides to visit these new friends and in doing so finds her life changed forever. Humor, sorrow, romance, strength in adversity, and more are all feelings that the characters, and the reader, experience in the telling of this story.

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