Guernsey Literary Society Review

I’ve recently read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I’d hesitated and debated over this one for a while, since it is an epistolary novel and I thought the lack of “scene” structure would bother me. I’m pleased to report that my early reservations about this book were unfounded. 

In the book, WW II has just ended. Writer Juliet Ashton is on a book tour for her latest novel and facing writer’s block on her next project, when she receives a letter from a stranger.  Thus begins her introduction to the eclectic members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and a tale of the Channel Islands during the German occupation.

Despite the unusual format, I was quickly hooked.  I loved this novel for its offbeat characters, the touches of humor, and Austen-like romance.  What impressed me most was the voice. Each of the letter writers had a distinctive quality and the content of their letters gave insight into their foibles and agenda – each one a study in character.

The only drawback was that I’m terrible with names. There were so many characters that I had trouble keeping them all straight (especially without physical descriptions to anchor my memory). I contemplated keeping a list, but in the end, I managed without it.

Have you ever read an epistolary novel?  What about a novel in verse or other unusual format?  What did you think of the experience?


3 Responses to Guernsey Literary Society Review

  1. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a few years ago and really liked it. Mostly I liked the historical aspects. I don’t recall having a problem keeping track of the characters.
    The other epitolary novel I’ve read that comes to mind is One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus which is in diary form. I find the style very reader friendly.

    • chs says:

      You must be much better with names than I am. 😉 But I agree with you about the historical aspects. I also loved all the literary references.

      Do you recommend the Jim Fergus novel?

  2. Yes, I really enjoyed the Fergus novel. If you want to borrow my copy, let me know.

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