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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Shaffer, Mary Ann, and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Perhaps my favorite book this year. Dear Reader, I loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the epistolary style, I loved the history, I loved the plot. I loved the literary references and the importance of books. The only thing that I didn't love was finishing this delightful novel.

Don't let the title fool you. Whimsical as it is (and I don't believe I mentioned that I loved the title AND the cover), the novel is not all whimsy and good humor. The subject matter - the occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII - is serious, well-researched, and detailed.

Did I mention the influence of Charles Lamb? Charles Lamb, my favorite essayist, is influential in establishing the initial contact between Juliet Ashton and the Guernsey Literary Society, and Mr. Lamb makes his presence felt throughout if only in a minor way.

I don't want to tell too much. This is a book that should be personally discovered by every lover of books and literature; the wit, the charm, and the literary delight are ever present, and ever balanced by the serious consequences of German Occupation.

Lesley's review first caught my interest, so when I saw it at the library, I couldn't resist. This, however, is a book that I'd like to own and return to whenever the need for it might arise.

Other reviews: Marg, Kay, and Katherine

Fiction. Historical novel and much more. 2008. 274 pages.

24 comments:

Kay said...

Isn't this a lovely book? So glad you enjoyed it too!

Sam Houston said...

This is one of those books that I'm starting to see nice comments about all over the web. I think it's quickly turning into a book that will really benefit from all the great word-of-mouth that bloggers are providing - and that it will be a success because of that, something that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

You have to love lit blogs...

Nan said...

Wonderful review! It is waiting for me on the shelf, and as I told Kay, I think it will be perfect to read in the fall. I also told her it reminds me of the reader-to-reader acclaim which Jan Karon's first Mitford book received. It's quite thrilling.

jenclair said...

Kay - Yes, it is a lovely book! A genuine pleasure.

Sam - You are right, the web chat will probably assure success and would have been impossible a few years ago.

Nan - Oh, Nan, you will love it. The literary references are a highlight for readers, but the characters are so wonderfully drawn and the plot is interesting, too.

Katherine said...

I'm so glad to run into someone else who loves this book! Definitely one of the best books I've read this year as well. It reminds me a lot of Barbara Pym, which is another reason why I loved this book.

SuziQoregon said...

I'm currently #19 on the hold list at the library for this one. Luckily they have 10 copies so it shouldn't take too much longer.

jenclair said...

Katherine - :) It really was a joy and may end up as my favorite for the year as well!

SuziQ - Your library was more prescient than ours, but I don't believe there are many book bloggers in our area to be as hyper-aware of a new phenomenon. In fact, there don't seem to be as many bloggers in our area period...

Glad you will be able to get a copy soon. You will speed right through it!

Bookfool said...

I'm #119 on the list at Paperback Swap! Thanks for the reminder. I read Book Nook Les's review (or is it Les'?) and forgot to put it on my wish list, but your enthusiastic review nudged me to bop right over there. Thanks, Jenclair!

Table Talk said...

Every review I've seen of this book has been superb. Given the waiting list at the library I might just get round to seeing if I agree by Christmas!

Bybee said...

Thanks for the heads-up...I would have ignored it completely because of that title. Pat yourself on the back with your page-turning hand.

Marg said...

I read this book during the week and totally loved it too! I would never have picked it as being a historical fiction book from the title!

Les said...

Another fan! Yay! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it as much as I did. It's definitely the darling of the year, don't you think? I had fun selling a couple of copies yesterday at work. I think it'll be a big seller this Christmas once more and more people read it and decide to buy a copy (or two) to give to friends and family. And, I agree, it most certainly is one to own.

jenclair said...

bookfool - #119!!! Wow! It should be worth the wait, though.

Ann - Oh, I really hate that you all have to wait that long! My library had one copy on the new book shelves, and I had no idea how lucky I was!

bybee - I actually did pass it by once. Then after I read Les' review, I knew to grab it the next time. (patting with great enthusiasm)

Marg - Neither would I! Nor would I have believed it to be a paean to literature, but I was singing in the chorus pretty quickly!

Les - They can keep Atonement, I'll celebrate TGLAPPPS. And I think this book would be a meaningful Christmas present...if there is anyone who has not read it by then!

raych said...

Well, if that's the way you feel about it, I can't NOT read this book.

jenclair said...

raych - I hope you find it as much fun as I did to learn about the occupation of Guernsey through such interesting characters!

Juliann in WA said...

Well I already wanted to read this book - not I really want to read it. There are 225 holds on 22 library copies - but I just cannot add another book to my shelf right now so I will just jump in that hold line and put it on my Amazon wish list. Thanks

jenclair said...

Juliann - Oh, my gosh! Even with 22 copies, 225 holds is amazing! Good luck~~

Iliana said...

I love your enthusiastic review Jen - Makes me want to rush out and get this! :)
I think I will love it - it's got all those elements I fall for.

Now, maybe I'll get a B&N coupon or something soon and I can go pick this up because I'm sure the library holding list is forever!

Kailana said...

I keep seeing reviews of this book. I think I might have to take a peek. The title didn't really catch my attention, but actually paying attention to what it is about is making me think that I should give it a try!

jenclair said...

iliana - This was such a pleasure to read. Hope you get a copy soon!

kailana - Sometimes too many positive reviews set a book up to be a disappointment; hope that isn't the case with this one because it was so much fun, yet so much more.

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I feel exactly the same way about it. In fact, everyone I've talked to has felt the same way. I can't say enough about it.

jenclair said...

Lisa - Everything I've read has been positive, too. A great read!

Danielle said...

I'm reading this now (just a few entries every day to draw out the experience) and totally agree with you! It's a lovely novel!

jenclair said...

danielle - I hope you end up loving it as much as I do!