Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, The

Shaffer, Mary Ann

  12 Reviews

As London emerges from the shadow of the Second World War, writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. When her publisher passes on a letter from a man she's never met - a native of Guernsey who has come across her name written inside a book - they begin to exchange letters. Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends who under German occupation formed the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Juliet corresponds 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.

Comments from Groups

We all enjoyed the book-loved the author's turn of phrase. Light in style even though some of the content is heavy in nature. Auckland 255

Enjoyed by all. One member remembered the war and rationing. Discussed portrayal of characters, great humour, love affairs, living with the enemy, cruelty and kindness, occupation, etc. Northland 002

Loved by us all. Several of us had read it before and loved it just as much the second time round. Motueka 002

All enjoyed the book. Found that the letter form was a good way of getting to know multiple characters, especially characters who were quiet and shy. Discussion flowed well. Notes and questions good. Huntly 001

One of the most successful books we have had. It was enjoyed by all with everyone having learnt about the appalling conditions in Guernsey during the war, but also delighted by the light touch Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Borrows had in creating a wonderful group of utterly real characters. Wellington 031

The majority of the group enjoyed the book. However, one or two found the letter format somewhat off-putting.There was a need to check often who she was actually writing to, and there was a large number of characters to keep track of. But, those who finished the book (two didn't) found an interesting insight into an aspect of the second World War not well-known. Christchurch 317

Everyone was very positive about the book. Although many aspects of the story were sad and grim, the style was surprisingly effective with the unfolding of the story, and the development of the characters. A few bits seemed a little contrived, but overall a big tick. Auckland 307

A fascinating style of writing and an enjoyable format for a change. Good characterisation over a range of personality types - we found it thoroughly enjoyable and easy to read. The trauma and drama of war was well interwoven without too much horror. Christchurch 240

For the most part our group loved this book. Discussion involved the lost art of letter-writing, the importance of community and the role of women during and after the war. Wellington 185

A delightful and refreshing style of writing. Enjoyed by all. There is now the temptation to visit Guernsey for oneself! Christchurch 304

We liked the book. Had differing opinions on Dawsey's qualities, attributes and suitability! Governor's Bay 003

What a delightful book. In spite of there being lots of characters it was easy to follow. The beginning was a bit laborious but then it flows. The discussion didn't really flow however, despite everyone agreeing it was a good read - maybe no real substance? Carterton 001

We really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of history we were unaware of, and it inspired us to find out a bit more about Guernsey. It was a beautifully told story and the epistolary style was enjoyed. Auckland 319

Wow! The first book (in 18 months) that was well received by EVERYONE at our meeting! We enjoyed the story, the quirky characters, the letter-writing format, the history lessons, and the struggle through adversity with humour and kindness intact. Highly recommended! Tararua 001

We loved the book. It was a very easy read, and stimulated further research and a lively discussion. We played Vera Lynn in the background of our meeting, ate French and English cheeses, and the hostess decorated her house with Union Jacks! Auckland 385

One member 'just couldn't get into it'; some struggled initially but then, like all the others, thoroughly enjoyed this book. We all learnt things about the war and particularly about Guernsey, that we had no idea about. The writing was very clever, and we felt it must be very difficult to write a book this way, as each character has to be portrayed well in each letter. It was both a humorous and sobering read. Balclutha 001



DARF 004
We enjoyed that it was a secret history lesson, learning about the occupation of Guernsey, mixed in with a good book. Ending was a little cheesy, with the detective aspect being a bit out of place with the rest of the book (but how else would this have happened...). Reminded us that we have all really lost the art of writing letters (perhaps we will be inspired). All enjoyed the book.
This was a reread for many of the group. A lively discussion ensued about the ability of an American writer to accurately reflect the language, mood and conditions of events in Britain during and after the war, with memories of family members who lived through this time at odds with the characters and events conveyed in the book. Some wanted to visit Guernsey immediately. There was some consternation on realising that the whole book was epistolary but most adjusted to this style. Characters were clearly drawn and easily differentiated.
CHCH 487
We unanimously loved this book. The characters are so well-drawn and the many humorous exchanges had us laughing out loud in places. The island of Guernsey comes to life and you feel truly transported. However, we found we had very little to discuss (besides the fact that those of us who had also seen the movie were very disappointed with it!) Perhaps, as a younger group, we had less of an ability to relate to the particulars of war We would still recommend this book though, it felt like a great escape just as we went in to lockdown.
AUCK 412
Only three of our eleven actually read the book but those three of us loved it. We really liked it being as an epistolary, a new experience for us! We thought it a clever way to bring a book together and it was very easy to follow the characters. We felt the author really brought her characters to life. Of those who didn't read it, the epistolary form of writing did not seem to appeal.
THAM 004
A great favourite with everyone - including spouses. Warm, believable, educational, humorous, awful and memorable.
CHCH 297
We all really loved this book. We found the letters brought out the different characters so well, and the mix of humour and deep issues allowed us to be with what was happening in the story without feeling heavy or needing to move away from it. The way in which the different writers of the letters added different layers of meaning to an issue or story gave the book a feeling of depth and reality. We all enjoyed the characters and they, through their letters, felt real.
AUCK 353
We all loved this book AND had a night out at the movie as well.
PICT 005
We all thought this a wonderful introduction to an "epistolary" novel, aided by the excellent notes and questions.
HAST 007
Loved by all - highly recommended.
Everyone enjoyed this book - such a great ending!
TAUR 055
Second time of reading for a few of us, and we found it easier to get into. The others took a bit to work out who was who. All of us really enjoyed the book and would recommend to others.
Everyone loved this book. It was our first read as a newly formed bookclub so was very fitting.