The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows


A novel in letters, the sole novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and completed and published posthumously by her relative, Annie Barrows. In tone, it’s very much like the letters between the Mitford sisters, and is by turns funny, delightful, tragic and touching.

It follows protagonist Juliet, a writer, who receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey who is hungry for books and news after the invading Germans have finally left. As she starts to communicate with him, he mentions the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which piques her curiosity, and soon she is communicating via letter with all of the members, and a few other island dwellers too.

Though Juliet is the main character, the book is really all about what it was like to be living on Guernsey during it’s occupation by the Germans, during the war. Shaffer found herself stranded there in a fog once, came across a book about Guernsey during WWII, and was fascinated with the subject from that day on. Some of the stories told are clearly factual, others are fictionalized, and small town/island life is captured lovingly. It’s a truly evocative book, and the only complaint is that it is too short.

Recommended to me as a light read, almost shyly by a friend, I wasn’t expecting it to be such a lovely book, with a real, heartfelt story, not a light romance at all.

Read It If: You like authors like the Mitfords, you have an interest in World War II, or if you like stories of small town life.

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