This was the very first book that I read as part of my very first book club membership. An appropriate choice for a book club to read too I must say, seeing how much of the book actually revolves around a literary society (a fancy name for a book club back in the 40’s) itself! I’m not one for heavy reads (my logic being that there is enough sadness in the world as is, without us having to read about it too!) and I was much encouraged at the reviews on the book’s jacket that referred to the book as “spirited”, “delightful” and other such charming epithets. To tell the truth I decided to buy the book as soon as I heard its name – “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. I mean, how could you resist? This clearly wasn’t about anything dark, brooding or gruesome!
And my expectations were well met. While its format of telling an entire story via a series of letters from one character to another took me by surprise at first, I soon settled down to this whimsical method that served just as well as paragraphs of descriptive text, would. It took a while to get used to the numerous personalities that inhabit this book’s pages and while the short length of the narrative can leave you feeling like you still haven’t plumbed the depths of each character, this book nevertheless will leave you smiling and yearning for a simpler time.
Summary: A young English female author who lives in wartime London, is looking for the next big idea for her book. Quite by chance, she begins a pen-friendship with a few of the island folk on Guernsey (one of the Channel islands that identified with the British crown) and is charmed by their simplicity and open friendliness. Her curiosity about their literary society with its peculiar name and her desire to know more about their love for a woman who seemed to have touched the lives of many in Guernsey, leads to revelations of wartime experiences on the island that are joyful, painful and hilarious in turn. Determined to know more, she sets forth to the island to meet these wonderful people and finds that Guernsey has more than just a story in store for her.
My recommendation: A must-read if you’re looking for something light and cheerful that will lift your spirits. No deep life lessons here though.