Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review & Giveaway: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (May 5, 2009)
Paperback, 304 pages, $14.00
ISBN-10: 0385341008
ISBN-13: 978-0385341004
Read an excerpt here.


In January of 1946, as war-torn Europe begins the rebuilding process after World War II, author Juliet Ashton is struggling to find a subject for her next book. She never expects that the subject will find her, literally showing up in her mailbox in the form of a letter from a stranger.

Dawsey Adams, a resident of the Channel Island of Guernsey, finds Juliet's address inside a secondhand book by Charles Lamb. He writes to her to inquire if Lamb wrote any more books since there are no bookstores in Guernsey. In his letter, Dawsey mentions that he's a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an organization which, thanks to one woman's quick thinking, saved several Guernsey residents from German arrest. Juliet writes back and wants to know more about this oddly named book club. Soon she is corresponding with several other Guernsey residents, all of whom are eager to share their experiences during the past five years of being cut off from the mainland by the Germans. Reading was an integral part of getting the small community through the years of German occupation. As Eben Ramsay writes, "We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us."

The story is told through a series of letters and the epistolary format works splendidly here. With each letter I read, I fell in love with Guernsey just as much as Juliet did. After reading two or three letters from a single character, I no longer needed to reference the italics above the letter that stated who was writing to whom. I could tell Dawsey's letters from Isola's and Isola's from Eben's just from their unique writing styles. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Juliet and her longtime friend and editor, Sidney.

I picked up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while I was in the midst of moving, and this delightful book helped defuse a lot of moving-related stress. I had short, infrequent opportunities to read and the epistolary format was perfect for that situation. I could read several letters at a time, set the book down, and continue my reading later without missing a beat.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has received a lot of praise, so much that I worried it might not be able to live up to my expectations. I'm pleased to report that it exceeded my (very high) expectations. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have created something truly special here, and the book deserves all the accolades it has been given. Smart, witty writing, a diverse cast of characters, and tales that range from heartwrenching to hilarious made this book into an instant favorite for me. My only complaint about the book is that it had to end.

Rating: 10/10.

Book Giveaway
Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have FIVE copies of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to give away to my readers. US and Canadian residents only. Leave a comment on this entry for a chance to win. Please include with your e-mail address so I have a way to contact you if you win. I'll announce the winners a week from today.

46 comments:

  1. I love the title of this one. I still have trouble not making it a tongue twister. I really want to read it. Your review is great. Nothing like a book that you hate to see end. Sometimes it takes awhile to get in another book. I would love to win this giveaway.

    teakettle58@yahoo.com

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  2. I would very much love to win this book. I've heard so many wonderful things about it.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

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  3. Keeping my fingers crossed...I am dying to read this book!

    ruthellenanderson (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks!

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  4. Although I've already read this book, about a year ago, I've let it get away from me, no doubt loaning it to someone to whom I recommended it. It's the kind of book I want to re-read, and put on the keeper shelf. I'd love to win a copy to have for my own, and jealously guard.
    lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

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  5. There's nothing better than a book that makes you connect to people AND place. To make location a character of the narrative can be difficult but I've yet to find a reader who isn't thrilled with the effort. Thank you for the review. I've seen the book often at bookstores, and never have known quite what to make of it. I'm at angiedawn_b@yahoo.com if you'd like to make one mine.

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  6. This is one of those books that just make you sigh when you close it for the last time. Great review. No need to enter me.

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  7. I think I am one of the few people who has not read this one. Having read all these fantastic reviews, I would love to own a copy. Enter me please Ruth!
    luanne (dot) ollivier (at) gmail.com

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  8. I've been hearing amazing things about this book. Thanks for sharing it!

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

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  9. I definitely need a copy of this book for re-reads. I can tell it's going to be one that I return to every few years.

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  10. I'd really like to read this book - please count me in. Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  11. I would like to win this book, please. :)

    kitty fischer [at] gmail [dot] com

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  12. Thanks for this great review. This is the book that my book club is reading for our next meeting.

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  13. So glad you liked the book! It makes me happy when others like the book as much as I did. Definitely a keeper, huh?

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  14. Great review! I've read a lot of good reviews about this book so I can't wait to dive into it!

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  15. I too have read the book and loved it, but it was from the library and I would love to win a copy of my very own...to own.

    CaitemaireAThotmailDOTcom

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  16. This is one that has been on my wish-list for so long! And I am glad you enjoyed it as well! Dnt enter me for the Giveaway though!

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  17. I've been wanting to read this for a while. Count me in!

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

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  18. You have me hooked! Five copies is a nice number and I hope I get one. Thanks.

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  19. My Aunt/Godmother told me about this book when I was reading The Book Thief and it is definitely on my list of Wanna Reads! Thanks for such a great give away :) {janflocor at aol}

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  20. Count me in would love to read this book!
    Carla
    cpullum(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  21. Oh please consider me! I desperately need a new book to read since finishing another great World War II book titled, "Abandoned and Forgotten," by Evelyne Tannehill. I have been on a real World War II book kick lately- this would be just the fix I need!

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  22. I loved this one too! So glad to hear that you felt the same way. =)

    (Not entering the contest)

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  23. I loved this book! I read through the library, but would love to own it.

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  24. Everyone who has read it seems to have loved this one. Thanks for entering me.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

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  25. My mother-in-law was on Guernsey during the German occupation and I would LOVE to give her this book! Thanks for the chance to win it.

    tatamagouche at netbundle dot ca

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  26. Lovely review, Ruth! No need to enter me into the giveaway. :)

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  27. Great review! I've heard so much about this book, I'd love to read it. Please count me in.

    rlzamuco AT yahoo DOT com

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  28. I've heard so many good things about this book, I'd love a copy. Please enter me

    andie.v107 at yahoo dot com

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  29. I am so glad that the book lived up to its hype. I am sure it will for me too. I was lucky to win this elsewhere, so do not enter me. A fantabulous review, very very well written. Thanks!

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  30. I borrowed this from the library so I could read it, but I'd love my own copy to re-read! Isn't it awesome?

    je2kids(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  31. Thank you for the entry.

    It looks like a great story, one I would love to read!

    freda.mans[at]sympatico.ca

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  32. Hi Ruth! Your blog is beautiful! I have wanted this book for ages! Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

    My email is circlebooks(at)shaw(dot)ca
    my book blog is www.bookblabbing.blogspot.com

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  33. The review on this book is very good, and I
    would like to be included in this giveaway.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

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  34. I would love to win this one Ruth!
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

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  35. Ah, I am dying to read this one; thanks for sharing, Ruth!

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  36. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

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  37. I've been wanting to read this one. Heard great things about it.

    jen4777[at]hotmail.com

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  38. This is a lovely,fast read!

    ratherdashing27@hotmail.com

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  39. I'm glad to see you liked this one as much as I did. Would it be okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations?

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  40. Please include me in your giveaway


    Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at CoolCanucks.ca


    bluebelle0367(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  41. Hopefully I am not too late. I'd love to be entered.

    simplystacieblog@gmail.com

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  42. I have been wanting to read this book forever! My son, who must love his Auntie more than me..the little stinker, gave it to her for Christmas last year. She loved it, but said "Git yer own copy" rather than mail it to me...big brat that she is....*insert sad face.....

    sigh...maybe I'll get lucky! That'll show 'em!

    bookworm2511 at yahoo.com

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  43. Thank you for the review. I have heard so many great things about this one and would love to read it. Please enter me for sure!

    mmillet at gmail dot com

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  44. I've heard SO many good things about this book. I would love to win a copy. andi (dot) miller (at) gmail.com!

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  45. As I read reviews for this book and think back on my own experience reading it, the thought that I have yet to write a review bewilders me more and more.

    It's amazing that, as I read your posts, I find we're interesting similarly. I couldn't resist smiling when I came across this sentence: "Juliet writes back and wants to know more about this oddly named book club."

    While it was obviously just an explanatory sentence, meant to be read over without thought, it popped out at me. It was for this very reason that I picked up the book. I've never read anything that actually required a nickname simply to keep us from having to exert so much energy to say the title.

    Also (I have to get off the computer soon, as my dad went to sleep and internet is now off-limits), I want to quickly take notice of your last sentence: "My only complaint about the book is that it had to end." This is precisely how I felt. I read this book on the way home from a family reunion (goodness, if I ever get car-sick from reading a book, I will never enter a car again). I was satisfied and content, yet saying goodbye to the Guernsey, the story, and, most importantly, the characters, was heart-wrenching. I agree that this is a fabulous book. Everyone should read it.

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  46. This sounds so good..too bad i missed the contest!

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