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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by [Shaffer, Mary Ann, Annie Barrows]
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,039 customer reviews

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Length: 257 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'Charming ... one to lift even the most cynical of spirits' The Times 'Thronging with lovable people ... golden comedy' Guardian 'What a gorgeous book - very touching and funny' Joanna Lumley 'Delightfully spirited and quirky novel-of-letters ... You'd have to be pretty hard-hearted not to fall under its spell' Daily Mail Books of the Year

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'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1373 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (10 May 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002R88G4U
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 1,039 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,914 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 Jun. 2008
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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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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10 Comments 89 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By kehs on 10 July 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Told in epistolary form this book is comparable to 84 Charing Cross Road but also has a charm all of its own. Set in 1946, we meet Juliet, a writer who is searching for inspiration to begin a new book. By a string of coincidences she learns about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and becomes intrigued by them. They all begin writing to each other and sharing snippets of their lives. Some of their wartime tales are of heroics; some of love, some are humorous and some are heartbreaking. Through everything that they endured they became united by a shared passion for books. Although, in fact, the book group was originally just a subterfuge to outwit the German soldiers, but became a reality as a love for books was discovered between them all. The surprise at the end is wonderfully warming and such a delight.

Mary Anne Shaffer has told a story of wartime horrors and hardships, yet kept the tone gentle and just bearable to read, without taking away the awfulness of the Nazi occupation in Guernsey. This book had me entranced from the very beginning and will stay with me for some time to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Remembering two other excellent books that I had read several years ago about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II - Island Madness by Tim Binding and The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards - I found this jolly romp to be a 'lite' version of the other more deep and informative books. However it had a checklist of the various bullet point 'must mentions' (A German killing and roasting a cat, starving Todt workers escaping, Islanders being betrayed, a love affair between a German Officer and a local girl..) This book is, as another reviewer described it, suitable for Year 12, early adult reading. It is charming and different being in the format of letters. Gosh the postal system must have been as good as emails in those days! Sad to read that this is the only book published by Mary Ann Shaffer and good for her niece tidying it up at the end. The last pages make sad reading for that reason. I can recommend is a quirky quick read with a satisfactory ending and some fun characters that you grow to admire. The descriptions of the child Kit are especially well drawn. I think that the reviews written by today's Islanders are well worth reading. They have picked up on anomalies which annoy the practiced ear.
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