Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cannonball Read #49: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Ann Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a beach or commute book. You'll see the big surprise coming well ahead of time, and it's not what I would call a particularly original work, but for all of that, it is a sweet and engaging book.

The novel is really a collection of letters and telegrams between the various characters therein. The main character, Juliet, is a war writer post-war, and is unsure of her next projects. She is tired of the war and tired of her routine, but when she stumbles into the stories of the people on the island of Guernsey, she finds new vigor and begins to chart a new path for herself. The letters between the characters do a wonderful job of character development and highlighting the progress of new friendships. During the Nazi occupation of Guernsey, the island's inhabitants had to find ways to forge on and live a life as normal as possible. One of the ways they did this was through a literary club they put together after being caught breaking curfew. The club was a simple patch on a sticky situation at first, but after a while, the members began to truly know and enjoy each other.

I feel like this book is a collection of characters clumped together. Since it's all letters and telegrams, there's no backdrop for the story. You get little dribs and drabs of the environment, but it's never fleshed out enough to really give the story any kind of emotional context. I think a change in format would go a long way in improving it.

I'll be honest with you...it's taken me the better part of two weeks to write this review because I just don't have that much to say about it. It's a perfectly fine, cutesy little read, but it's the whitest of white bread. Borrow a copy from someone and take it to the beach.

290 pages

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