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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Center Point Platinum Fiction (Large Print)) [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Mary Ann Shaffer , Annie Barrows
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (803 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 2008 Center Point Platinum Fiction (Large Print)
It's January, 1946, and writer Juliet Ashton sits at her cluttered desk in London, struggling to find a subject for her next book. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams who, as well as sharing her love of Charles Lamb, is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, set up in secret during the German Occupation. It's not long before Juliet begins to hear from the other members and discovers that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name. There's Isola, who sells love potions along with her vegetables; Eben, a fisherman with a passion for Shakespeare; Will, the creator of the famous potato peel pie; and Dawsey himself, a bashful farmer with a tender heart. As the letters fly back and forth, Juliet's curiosity turns into genuine affection, and she decides to visit her new friends and learn more about Elizabeth, the founding member of the society, who fell in love with a German officer and was sent away to a concentration camp, leaving her only child behind. Poignant, captivating and utterly charming, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a timely testament to the power of friendship, books and love.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Center Point Large Print; Lrg edition (Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602852693
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602852693
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15.6 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (803 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`...commemorates beautiful spirits who pass through our midst and hunker undercover through brutal times.' -- Guardian

`...this heart-warming novel contrasts the grimness of occupied Guernsey with the humour and courage of the inhabitants' -- Daily Mail

`A charming, nostalgic read, it is tipped to become the surprise hit of the summer' -- The Times

`The society's members are quirky and lovable, their friendships touching and the letters so funny and moving that by the time she's considering a visit to the island we are desperate to go with her' -- Observer

`This warm-hearted tale of friendship, secrets and long correspondence is perfect rainy-day reading'
-- Elle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

`The society's members are quirky and lovable, their friendships touching and the letters so funny and moving that by the time she's considering a visit to the island we are desperate to go with her' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
452 of 473 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected delight 23 Jun 2008
By Sid Nuncius HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a truly delightful book. I worried before it arrived that an amusing and whimsical title might have persuaded me to request something which would turn out not to be very good, but I was wholly wrong. I enjoyed it immensely; it is witty, erudite without being smug, interesting, laugh-out-loud funny in places and very moving in others.

The novel is set in 1946 and is in the form of letters, mainly to and from the central character, Juliet Ashton, a successful writer who becomes, wholly coincidentally, involved with a group of people on Guernsey who lived through the wartime German Occupation. The characters are thoroughly engaging and Mary Ann Shaffer (although born in the USA) manages to capture the English voice of the time beautifully: the prose is a pleasure to read.

It is very hard to summarise any of the developing stories without giving away more than I'd have wanted to know in advance, so I won't try, but the book has something to say about all kinds of things. Among them are friendship, suffering, forgiveness, goodness and wickedness, the resilience of humanity in desperate circumstances, how reading may influence us and the history of the Channel Islanders during the war. All this makes it sound a bit worthy and turgid, but it's neither - anything but, in fact. I never felt that I was being lectured, the history forms a really interesting and beautifully evoked backdrop to a thoroughly involving story and the observations on other things are either implicit in the doings of characters I really cared about or made directly with wit and flair. And there's a really tense will-they-won't-they love story which Jane Austen would have been proud of and which kept me in nail-biting suspense right up to the last page.
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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love it or Hate it 15 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback
I wasn't going to bother reviewing this book because there are so many reviews already. I won't re-hash the plot, but here is the lowdown if you are confused by the polarised opinions.

The characters are very well defined despite some complaints about several of them having a similar `voice' in their letters. They are well-defined to the point of caricature. Not entirely unforgivable, Dickens did a lot of this (she's no Dickens). There are probably too many characters and they need distinctive traits but if you look at the five star reviews, people who love the book compare the Islanders to the cast of the Vicar of Dibley and Last of the Summer Wine. This is cited as a compliment. If the Vicar of Dibley makes you chuckle maybe this is the book for you. A lot of the five star reviews come from this camp.

The Vicar of Dibley isn't a bad comparison when you think about it. The book has that Richard Curtis winning combination of humour, warmth and whimsy interspersed with loss and tragedy. Many people love this formula. Other people think it's an insult and a travesty to serve up what happened to the people of Guernsey in the Second World War as light entertainment, albeit with a few tears along the way. Islanders here are patronised as a bunch of eccentrics who could inhabit any small community. There is no sense of a Guernsey identity, just bits of its history served up against a picturesque backdrop. Even the surnames are wrong, like setting a book in rural Ireland where all the characters have made-up Americanised names without a Murphy, Fitzgerald or O'Reilly on the horizon. Or Scotland without a Campbell or McAnybody

Novels in the form of letters put some people off. This one is a red herring.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By sam155 TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel more than lives up to its intriguing whimsical title. It positively bursts with life and characters and stories from post war Britain and post occupation Guernsey. It tells the tale of Guernsey's occupation from the people's point of view and these people are real and rounded and have their own divisions and spats alongside their united attempts to keep their spirits uncrushed and untethered by their German occupiers.

The catalyst for this intriguing adventure is a writer, Juliet Ashton, who, under a pseudonym has been writing morale boosting books during the war and is now at a loss for a new subject. Through a mutual love of books, she gains a pen pal from Guernsey and he and his neighbours are a real can of worms that opens delightfully into a vivid cast of characters.

Juliet is charming and there is a subplot about a budding romance bubbling away in the background. What is interesting about the book is that it is told through the format of letters. The downside of this is that you sometimes mentally have to ask "now who was Mrs so and so again and why is she writing to Juliet?", since there are at least ten characters all writing to each other at various times. Don't let this put you off though, as its also a lovely way of having more than one voice or opinion to give you a rounder picture of the story and characters. Whilst I was reading it, I thought how lovely it would be as a film or TV adaptation and it reminded me of 84 Charing Cross Road, Howard's End, and the Camomile Lawn.

It is a pleasant book to read with beautiful language, often formal, but never stiff, and it isn't afraid to touch on the darker side of war despite its light humour and quirky characters. It's a heck of an achievement to tell such a gripping tale via the medium of letters alone but Shaffer pulls it off delightfully and I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderfully charming read. Its almost impossible to believe the characters are fictional.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ... a book that I bought for a friend who enjoyed it so much
Again this was a book that I bought for a friend who enjoyed it so much, insisted that I read it. And I found it a super read and gave really a good insight into Guernsey during... Read more
Published 2 days ago by D. O'Mahony
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I could not put this down and I never wanted it to end
Published 2 days ago by Hels
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! Lots of interesting characters & fascinating information...
Great read! Lots of interesting characters & fascinating information about how the island coped with the German invasion. Engaging from start to finish.
Published 4 days ago by Mrs Ruth McArthur
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with well-portrayed characters that draw you in as ...
A good read with well-portrayed characters that draw you in as they gently, and with humour, tell the story of enemy occupation.
Published 5 days ago by Ann Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars Summer Reading
Read as part of a book club, found the creation of post war London and then the Channel Islands interesting and beleiveable, happy ending a little biut forced but great summer... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Graham Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
delightful little book
Published 15 days ago by Ian Shuff
5.0 out of 5 stars simply wonderful
So glad this was recommended to me and that I am now a member of the society!!! Honoured and happy
Published 15 days ago by Roberta Briant
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book, didn't want it to end.
Published 17 days ago by val mutch
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
Heartwarming and bittersweet. Didn't expect to become so attached but couldn't put it down and felt so connected to the characters.
Published 24 days ago by Hannah Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read meant a lot to me as I was an evacuee well written
Published 26 days ago by Louisa Jones
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