If you know me at all, it is probably not hard to guess that I have been a reader for my whole life. I’m fairly certain I was born with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. From the moment I learned to read, I ate up words and stories like they were going out of style. I collected books like they were gold and always had more than I knew what to do with, even as I made weekly trips to the library. I have read good books, bad books, mediocre books, and terrible books. But my favorites, of course, have always been the rare, but truly great books. The ones that you close after finishing the last page, exhale, and think, “This book was simply perfect.” The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer is one of those books.
When a friend recommended (and subsequently loaned) Guernsey to me, I had to laugh at the title. It’s so long and quite the mouthful! But the title of the book is a key aspect of its charm. After reading it in one sitting on a quiet Sunday afternoon, the title went from ridiculous to absolutely perfect (and yes, I am going to overuse that word in this post).
Guernsey, told through letters, is the story of a writer who, while looking for the subject of her next book, discovers a remarkable and beautiful story in the community of the unlikely island of Guernsey. Juliet Ashton is contacted by a man she’s never met, who has lived on the island his whole life, who believes that his community’s story is the one she is looking for. Through their correspondence, Juliet falls in love with Guernsey, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, and the humorous grit of the people who are part of it. Set in post-WWII England, this charming and delightful book tells the story of a writer, an island, German occupation, and how the people of Guernsey found community in the midst of oppression.
Guernsey is delightful, gritty, funny, honest, and insightful. It tells the story of people who endured harsh conditions under the German occupation of their small island home, but found ways to still enjoy life. They rose up together, quietly rebelled against the Germans, and created a piece of sanity in the middle of the horrors of World War II. In other words, this book is perfect. I cannot recommend this book enough.
And, Netflix made it into a movie! I haven’t watched it yet, but by the time this post is published I will have watched it. I can only hope that Netflix did this book even an ounce of justice.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer gets 5/5 stars.