The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society , when in fact it is a book that fulfilled every expectation that I had for it and more.
It is January, 1946. London, England is just beginning to rebuild after the Second World War. Juliet Ashton is on a book tour for a book that she wrote during the war meant to lift the spirits of those who read it, and is looking for inspiration for a new book, one completely different from her first. When she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams, a man who lives in Guernsey and is in possession of one of her old books, she begins a friendship through correspondence with him and the entire Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. She discovers how their literary society came to be, and she forms lasting friendships in the process.
I can't even describe fully how much I loved this book. It is comprised entirely of letters and telegrams between the characters in the book, a format that I love, and I couldn't devour it fast enough. The characters are what made the book so engrossing, though. Juliet is strong-willed and a talented writer, and her enthusiasm was contagious. Sidney, her close friend and one of the owners of her publishing company, was protective of her and caring. The people that she meets in Guernsey were people that I would all have loved to meet in real life- big-hearted, determined to put the horrors of the war and Occupation behind them, yet warm and loving. The war scarred them, but didn't change them beyond recognition.
Another aspect of the book that I loved is that it showed multiple sides of the war. It wasn't black and white- Germans= bad, everyone else= good. There were a few times when those who lived in Guernsey described a German soldier who was kind-hearted, or compassionate towards those that they were essentially imprisoning. It would be so easy to villanize every one of them, but those in Guernsey were able to show compassion to those who deserved it.
Despite the many heart-wrenching scenes, the saddest part of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society was that it ended. It had it all- a compelling story, a new perspective on the war, humour, and romance. I was also saddened to learn that Mary Ann Shaffer passed away in February 2008, shortly after her debut novel was released. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who would have loved to read more from her and her niece. Ultimately, this is one book that every fiction lover should take the time to read.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Everyone who loves fiction, especially to those interested in World War II (but you truly don't have to be interested in the war to love this one)
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge 2010, New Author Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge, Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Reading Challenge (mentioned on pgs.90,97,121,136)