Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

January 22, 2014 Book Review, reviews 12

Book Review:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferAnnie Barrows
Published by Dial Press on July, 2008
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary
Pages: 277
Source: purchased
AmazonBarnes & Noble

January Book Club had us reading The Guersney Potato Peel Pie and Literary Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  I kept putting off reading this one because I had it confused with a novel I had downloaded from Audible and found incredibly boring.  As it got closer to the date and time I panicked and knew I had to read at least a few pages so I could carry on a half-way intelligent conversation at book club.  So the day before we were to meet I downloaded a sample and quickly realized this was not the boring novel I thought it was.

An epistolary novel, so much was revealed about each character through the various letter writers.  Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows did a fabulous job of creating a unique “voice” for each character, a challenging undertaking given all the different letter-writers.  Learning about the German Occupation of the little island of Guernsey, the starvation of not only residents but the German soldiers as well, and how the residents sent their children away for FIVE years. . .the individual letters allowed me to feel like I was a good friend, a part of the Literary Society.  It was such a personal method of writing and supremely effective in capturing the reader.

Everyone in the book club seemed to thoroughly enjoy TGL&PPPS and one of the special treats was Laura our hostess, made an actual potato peel pie! And it was delicious!  A book for book lovers, a book for friends and a book to inspire community and feelings of good will.  If you like Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford or On Folly Beach by Karen White then you’ll love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Potato Peel Pie

Potato Peel Pie/Photo Courtesy of Laura F.


authorsphotoThe Authors:   Mary Ann Shaffer became interested in Guernsey while visiting London in 1976. On a whim, she decided to fly to Guernsey but became stranded there when a thick fog descended and all boats and planes were forbidden to leave the island. As she waited for the fog to lift, warming herself by the heat of the hand-dryer in the men’s restroom, she read all the books in the Guernsey airport bookstore, including Jersey under the Jack-Boot. Thus began her fascination with the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. 

Many years later, when goaded by her book club to write a novel, Mary Ann naturally thought of Guernsey. She chose to write in the epistolary form because, “for some bizarre reason, I thought it would be easier.” Several years of work yielded The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was greeted with avid enthusiasm, first by her family, then by her writing group, and finally by publishers around the world.  Sadly, Mary Ann’s health began to decline shortly thereafter, and she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to help her finish the book.

Mary Ann Shaffer was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1934. Her career included libraries, bookstores, and publishing, but her life-long dream was to “write a book that someone would like enough to publish.” Though she did not live to see it, this dream has been realized in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Annie Barrows, whose career also included libraries, bookstores, and publishing, is the author of the Ivy and Bean series for children, as well as The Magic Half.

Have you read this gem of a novel?  Or tried a potato peel pie? Yummy!



12 Responses to “Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

  1. Amy

    I haven’t read this book yet but it’s on my shelf. I’m hoping to read it over the next few months as part of the TBR Triple Dog Dare reading challenge. I’m so happy to hear how much you enjoyed the book. I think it was a terrific idea of your club host to make a potato peel pie. I didn’t know there was such a dish or that it was delish!

    Thank you for a great post. I’m really looking forward to reading this book!
    Amy recently posted…~ ~ First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~ ~My Profile

    • Stacy

      I know! Exactly! We were all amazed that Laura was able to find such a good recipe but not at all surprised she could turn it into something so beautiful and yummy. She’s our favorite cook and dessert maker 🙂

      Do please let me know what you think about The Guernsey book when you read it ~ I’ve since read a few negative reviews but didn’t feel the same. I loved this book and the idea that Mary’s niece stepped in to finish when she got too ill to continue is such a wonderful family story. Made me love this book all the more! Hope you enjoy it!
      Stacy recently posted…Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyMy Profile

    • Stacy

      Oh Juju you’d love it! It’s such a great novel, so inspiring and full of community and love.

      Would you believe our book club started with just 5 members! It was me, my two daughters, a good friend and someone she invited. Each of us were responsible for inviting one other person. Now we have 11 members in less than a year! We decided to start a club, one of us picked a book and we all took a dish to the first meeting. Since then we’ve invited three that didn’t work out for various reasons and 6 that have worked out. Our group is solid, dedicated and so much fun. I wish you were closer and could join us!
      Stacy recently posted…Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyMy Profile

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