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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – 5 May 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,039 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press (5 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385341008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385341004
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,039 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 681,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"I can't remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one, a world so vivid that I kept forgetting this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren't my actual friends and neighbors. Treat yourself to this book please--I can't recommend it highly enough."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love"
"Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book-- part Jane Austen, part history lesson. The letters in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society aren't addressed to you, but they are meant for you. It's a book everyone should read. An absolute treasure."--Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells
"A jewel...Poignant and keenly observed...A small masterpiece about love, war and the immeasurable sustenance to be found in good books and good friends."--"People"
"It's tempting to throw around terms like 'gem' when reading a book like this. But The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not precious...This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It's a charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love."--"San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
""A book-lover's delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary."--"Chicago Sun-Times"
"
""I've never wanted to join a [book] club as desperately as I did while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.... [The novel] is a labor of love, and it shows on almost every page."-Yvonne Zipp, "Christian Science Monitor
"
"As the letters unfold, Juliet--and we readers--learn the little-known history of German occupation of Guernsey. We come to know the brave and endearing people who survived the hardships--and a few who did not....In addition to a fine story, this delightful book offers affirming messages about some of the most enduring forces in life--the power of the written word, the strength of the human spirit and the value of relationships, even unexpected ones."--"Winston Salem Journal"
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a sweet, sentimental paean to books and those who love them.... It affirms the power of books to nourish people enduring hard times."--"Washington Post Book World"
"
""Here's who will love this book: anyone who nods in profound agreement with the statement, "Reading keeps you from going gaga." The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delight. Tart, insightful and fun."--Mary Doria Russell, author of "The Sparrow, A Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day"
"[A] marvelous debut.... Reminiscent of Helene Hanff's" 84 Charing Cross Road," this is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word."--"Library Journal
"
"Charming.... [Heroine] Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life--as readers will."--"Publishers Weekly
""[ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is] a nifty little cloth whose warp is bibliophilia and whose weft is Anglophilia.... I could not put the book down. I have recommended it to all my friends."--Erica Marcus, "Newsday
"
" A poignant, funny novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.... This one is a treat."--"Boston Globe
"
"A sure winner.... Elizabeth and Juliet are appealingly reminiscent of game but gutsy '40s movie heroines."--"Kirkus Reviews"
"Fast, fresh.... A perfect novel for adaptation by Masterpiece Theater."--"Santa Cruz Sentinel"
"Warm, life-affirming prose ... an ideal choice for book groups, and also for individual readers."--"St. Petersburg Times
""Delightful ... One of those joyful books that celebrates how reading brings people together."--"New Orleans Times-Picayune"
"A book lover's delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary." --"Chicago Sun-Times "
"I've never wanted to join a club so desperately as I did while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societ."."..[The novel] is a labor of love and it shows on almost every page." --"Christian Science Monitor
"

I can t remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one, a world so vivid that I kept forgetting this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren t my actual friends and neighbors. Treat yourself to this book please I can t recommend it highly enough. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love"
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book part Jane Austen, part history lesson. The letters in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societyaren't addressedto you, but they are meant for you. It's a bookeveryone should read. An absolute treasure. Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells
"A jewel...Poignant and keenly observed...A small masterpiece about love, war and the immeasurable sustenance to be found in good books and good friends." "People"
"It's tempting to throw around terms like 'gem' when reading a book like this. But The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is not precious...This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It's a charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love." "San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
" A book-lover's delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary. "Chicago Sun-Times"
"
" I ve never wanted to join a [book] club as desperately as I did while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society . [The novel] is a labor of love, and it shows on almost every page. Yvonne Zipp, "Christian Science Monitor
"
"As the letters unfold, Juliet and we readers learn the little-known history of German occupation of Guernsey. We come to know the brave and endearing people who survived the hardships and a few who did not....In addition to a fine story, this delightful book offers affirming messages about some of the most enduring forces in life the power of the written word, the strength of the human spirit and the value of relationships, even unexpected ones." "Winston Salem Journal"
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a sweet, sentimental paean to books and those who love them.... It affirms the power of books to nourish people enduring hard times." "Washington Post Book World"
"
" Here's who will love this book: anyone who nods in profound agreement with the statement, "Reading keeps you from going gaga." The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a delight. Tart, insightful and fun. Mary Doria Russell, author of "The Sparrow, A Thread of Grace and Dreamers of the Day"
"[A] marvelous debut.... Reminiscent of Helene Hanff's" 84 Charing Cross Road," this is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word." "Library Journal
"
Charming . [Heroine] Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life as readers will. "Publishers Weekly
""[ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is] a nifty little cloth whose warp is bibliophilia and whose weft is Anglophilia.... I could not put the book down. I have recommended it to all my friends." Erica Marcus, "Newsday
"
" A poignant, funny novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.... This one is a treat." "Boston Globe
"
A sure winner . Elizabeth and Juliet are appealingly reminiscent of game but gutsy 40s movie heroines. "Kirkus Reviews"
"Fast, fresh.... A perfect novel for adaptation by Masterpiece Theater." "Santa Cruz Sentinel"
Warm, life-affirming prose an ideal choice for book groups, and also for individual readers. "St. Petersburg Times
""Delightful ... One of those joyful books that celebrates how reading brings people together." "New Orleans Times-Picayune"
A book lover s delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary. "Chicago Sun-Times "
I ve never wanted to join a club so desperately as I did while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Societ."" [The novel] is a labor of love and it shows on almost every page. "Christian Science Monitor
""

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

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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7 Comments 473 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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