Review and Giveaway: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

GuernseyTRCoverI recently had the pleasure of reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and her aunt, the late Mary Ann Shaffer.  Where do I start in reviewing a book that has become a modern day classic in such a very short time?  A book that is almost universally loved?  A book that so many people have lauded, admired, and reviewed before me? 

Do I even need to say what it’s about?  Is it possible there are readers out there unfamiliar with the premise? 

In short, it’s a book told in letters.  It’s a cool format.  I know there is a real word for that.  Epistolary?  Is that it?  Or is that a religion?  Hmmm.. must check that out on Dictionary.com.  

Anyway, let’s dispense of the unwieldy book title for this review and just call it Potato.  Potato starts out in 1946.  WWII with all its devastation has ended, and the world is forever changed.  Early in the book Juliet Ashton, a writer, gets a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man living on the island of Guernsey, which had been occupied by the Germans during the war.  He found her name and address written on the inside of a book that intrigued him and, isolated on the island but seeking more information on the author, he reaches out to Juliet, the former owner of the book.  Their correspondence is the foundation for Potato.  

Dawsey tells Juliet about his book club, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  Juliet is intrigued and asks him to have the other members write to her as well, because she is looking for material for an article and thinks their group would be interesting to her readers.  Soon she is corresponding with several members of the Society, and before long she is charmed by the people and by the idea of the island, so much so that she is compelled to go meet them and see it for herself. 

Yes, Guernsey is a real place

Yes, Guernsey is a real place

I love my book club- love talking about it- love the many positive changes it has brought about in my life (including this blog).  However, I could never say that it saved me or got me through the worst times of my life.  I could never say that it became my lifeline during a war.  But that is precisely the function the Society served for many of the people on Guernsey. 

And I loved this book for all it’s bookish quotes and insightful observations.  There are so many to choose from, but here is one from page 11, which I adored: 

“That’s what I love about reading; one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book.  It’s geometrically progressive-all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” 

How true that is?!   That has happened to me so often.  

Another quote I loved isn’t specifically about reading, although I guess it could be: 

“Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person’s name suddenly pops up everywhere you go?  My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Mr. Simpless, my parson friend, calls it Grace.  He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and “fruitfulness” is drawn in.” 

That reminds me of when you get a new car.  I never knew how many Nissan Quests were on the road until I started driving one.  Or how many pregnant woman were in the world until I was one (and how they multiplied tenfold after I lost my baby). But it’s true in a bookish sense as well.  I have thrown my “book club energy” into the world, and I am constantly amazed at how often I meet others who participate in book clubs and who love to read and discuss what they’re reading.  You attract others like you into your sphere when you send out the right vibes.  And apparently I have some really strong book club vibes floating through the universe. 

Another quote I loved (LOVED!) is this: 

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey?  Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” 

I am that perfect reader, in this case.  I adored this book. 

I will leave you with one last quote, and (shock) it’s a book club one.  From page 51: 

“None of us had any experience with literary societies, so we made our own rules:  we took turns speaking about the books we read.  At the start, we tried to be calm and objective, but that soon fell away, and the purpose of the speakers was to goad the listeners into wanting to read the book themselves.  Once two members had read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight.  We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another.” 

Yes.  I can relate.  My book club is very dear to me, and it is a delight to debate a point in a book. 

If you are interested in WWII or historical fiction, you’ll appreciate this unique look at the war.  If you enjoy letters, are a member of a book club, or an avid reader, I strongly recommend this literary gem to you.  It is timeless, charming, insightful, and soothing.  It was the perfect book for me and I hope it finds other perfect readers. 

The publisher, Random House, has generously offered 5 copies of the trade paperback of this book to give away as part of it’s TLC Book Tour.  Please leave a comment by Friday, August 28th for a chance to win.  If you’ve already read Potato, please let me know what you thought of it!

Visit the Guernsey website HERE and the author’s website HERE (she also writes children’s books).  You can find discussion questions for your book group HERE.

71 Responses

  1. Very concise LOL! Don’t enter me b/c I recently won this from another blog.

  2. This post makes me sad and I’ll tell you why: every time I hear/read of someone else finishing (and subsequently loving!) this book, I sigh because I was NOT, until that moment, the LAST person to read it. HOWEVER, every time someone says they just finished it, I go back into my “hurumph” mode where I am one hundred percent sure that I AM the last person on earth who hasn’t read it. I just have NOT had time to get there, yet. I am ordering it from the library, now, (should come in quickly if my theory that I’m the last one proves correct) but do enter me in case there are still other people out there who have ordered it before me. ;O)

    iwriteinbooks @ gmail dot com

    • Hi Pam, thanks for stopping by. Maybe it will make you feel better to know that in my book club of 11 women, only one other person besides me has read the book- so there are at least 9 other people on the planet competing with you for the LAST PERSON status!

      Frankly I think the title puts some people off, which is too bad. I avoided the book for a year or so due to the cutesy title but finally gave in after seeing it on so many blogger ‘best of’ lists last year. I’m really glad I didn’t pass this one up.

  3. I haven’t read it yet, either. I don’t know why– every time I pass it on a book shelf I am compelled to buy it, I just haven’t yet. Maybe I’ll get lucky and win it. : )

  4. I’ve heard so many positive comments about this book, but haven’t read it yet. Please enter me. I’m very interested in all books about WWII.

  5. One of my all-time favorite books. Your quote about coincidence is one that I added to my reader’s journal; also loved the quote, “I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonlier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”
    Another lovely little book which is told through letters is 84, Charing Cross Road. Have you read it?

    • That’s another quote I loved and highlighted!

      I’ve heard of 84, Charing Cross Road but have not read it. Jotting down the title now.. thanks for the recommendation!

  6. I loved Potato Peel and have recommended it to everyone. It’s a book that has lots of appeal for many different types of readers – there is history, romance, mystery, and good writing. It’s a winner all around.

  7. This sounds really interesting. please include me in your drawing! thanks.

  8. My mom read this book for her book club and loved it – but she had to return her copy to the public library before I could get my hands on it. It has been on my wish list to buy. Please include me in your drawing.

  9. I really really loved this book, too. It’s so beautiful. Definitely a book for book lovers.

  10. I’ve read so many great reviews of this book, but unfortunately, I’m in the line of maybe 15 people on the earth who haven’t read it yet. So, definitely sign me up for the drawing! Thanks! 🙂

  11. Don’t enter me. I’ve read the book and loved it. I love your review too! It makes me want to re-read the book.

  12. My sister just told me about this book and how much she and the rest of her book club loved it. I’m really looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing~

  13. WOW! That was a great and glowing review. Why didn’t our book club pick this gem to read?? I almost picked this up the other day but am on a “book” budget until I go back to work. So put me in the contest and maybe it will be my lucky day!

  14. Please enter me in this contest! I’d love to read this book! Thank you!

  15. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. It’s been on my tbr list but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Winning would certainly move it to the top of my pile! : )

  16. I’d love to read and review this. How cool! That photo of Gurnsey is gorgeous!

  17. Potato! I love it! The more I read about this book, the more I want to add it to my collection, and make my book club read it. Yours was a great review, and makes me want to read it even more, if that’s possible. Please do enter me in this giveaway.

    zibilee(at)figearo(dot)net

  18. I’ve been thinking of buying this book but winning it would be better!!!
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

  19. I would love to be entered into the contest to win this book; I think that I have been living under a rock because I had not heard of this book until I read your review.

  20. Thanks for the picture of Guernsey! Nice review, as always, Lisa!

  21. i actually listened to this novel–and LOVED it. the audiobook had different narrators who added such depth to the novel.

    would it be greedy of me to want to actually read it myself? i’d love to win a copy of this novel–it’s such a great story! thanks, lisa.🙂

  22. Thanks for this lovely book giveaway. It sounds captivating.

  23. I LOVE the quotations you chose. They are such an important part of the book.

    I very much enjoyed Guernsey and thought the letter-writing style was done SO well and a total breath of fresh air. At first it was difficult because I didn’t always pay attention to who was writing, but once I did that (and could keep the characters straight) it was SO enjoyable.

  24. I already have this wonderful book, so don’t enter me in the giveaway.

    Fantastic review, Lisa. I love the quotes you chose, especially about ‘fruitfulness’. I reviewed this book for my blog a few months ago, and enjoyed reading your thoughts. The Guernsey photo is breathtaking.

    Thanks for your top-notch review!

  25. I recommended this to my bookclub and it was turned down – because so many members had already read it! And one and all were charmed by it.
    Thanks for providing a link for discussion questions.

  26. I really want to read this book based on what all the book blogs are saying. Thank you for the chance!

  27. I read it and I loved it and I h’neeeeeed to win it!!

  28. Definitely on my list to read. Perhaps I’ll win a copy! Great review.

  29. How delightful was this book? I loved it. I have a feeling I’ll be reading it again and again.🙂 I used a library copy to read it the first time so I’d love to win my own copy.

    My review is here: http://insatiablereader.blogspot.com/2009/05/guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie.html

  30. I am one of those people who haven’t read it. It sounds like a great book! Count me in! I know I would pass it along to my sister for her to read too,if I won. I liked your review of it! Thanks!

  31. Guernsey looks like a beautiful place. I haven’t read the book yet but have heard nothing but good things about it. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

  32. Would love to get my hands on a copy. THanks for hosting this giveaway!

  33. I haven’t read this book yet but after so many glowing reviews and everyone I talk to raving about it I am finally getting the message. I’d love to take my chances in your awesome giveaway.

    lillyswistek@gmail.com

  34. […] & Annie Barrows, at the following blogs:  Books and Movies (ends Aug 28, US and Canada), Books on the Brain (ends Aug […]

  35. Oh, I would love to read this! Please enter me in the givaway. Thanks!

  36. Please include me in your giveaway.
    Thanks
    Debbie
    debdesk9(at)verizon.net

  37. Read it a few months ago and remember being charmed. I would definitely recommend it to almost woman.

  38. I’ve heard alot about this book but can’t seem to get my hands on a copy.

    Cheli
    Cheli’s Shelves

  39. Please count me in…thanks.

  40. I haven’t read this yet but it’s been on my to read list for a while now. I would love to win a copy of it!

  41. I would love to win this book. It’s on my Wish List.

  42. This book is on my “to-read” list. I have heard good things about it from several people in my book club. I would love to win a copy!

  43. I loved this book. I borrowed it from the library and I’ve always wanted to re-read it. So, I’d definitely like to be entered into the giveaway!

  44. Please enter me as well, I’d love to reread it. I got the audiobook from the library and it was great, but I’d love read the real thing. Thanks!

  45. I read this book over the summer and I think that my friends and family members must be absolutely sick of all my gushing over it. I recommend it to everyone I know who is a lover of books. It was honestly the best book I’ve read in a very long time.

    I recently sent my copy off to Wales with my sister in law and won’t get it back for at least a year. If I win a copy, I promise to pass it along to at least one (or maybe 10) people. It is not to be missed!

  46. no need to enter me in the giveaway, but I wanted to concur and say I loved that book and it is a must read!

  47. I’ve heard good things about this book. I hope I win.

  48. What a wonderful book! But is it a war book or a peace book? We’re having a terrible time getting enough copies for our book club members, so I’m an enthusiastic entrant.

  49. I haven’t read this book yet but I would love to!

  50. Please enter me in your giveaway!

    Thanks,
    Amanda

    fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

  51. Hi please enter me in the drawing to win this book. Thanks Natasha

  52. Great review! I would love a chance to win this.

    Zia

    ziaria(at)gmail(dot)com

  53. I listened to GLPPPS on audio book and it was an amazing reading. I reviewed it here:

    http://jensbookthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/02/guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie.html

    The story is so rich and the characters so dynamic. The beautiful reading only added to the enchantment of this book. Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! Since I borrowed the audio from the library, I’ve wanted to get a copy of the book to keep in my library. It’s definitely a keeper!

  54. I’d love to read this one. I’m number 153 on the wait list at the library!

  55. I’ve read so many good reviews about this that I’m dying to read it. Please enter me in your giveaway.

    ahazraDOT88ATgmailDOTCOM

  56. I haven’t read this yet, but have heard so many nice things about it. Your review makes me even more interested! Please count me in

    rlzamuco AT yahoo DOT com

  57. LOVED, LOVED it. I thought I wouldn’t like all that letter writing, but after a few pages I wass hooked. I want to be bold and creative like Juliet. I want to love and care like the Guernsey people. I want to live in days where even if times are tough, you draw on each other for strength and comfort. I’ll carry this book with me for quite a while.

  58. I’ve heard so many good reviews about this book! I’d love to read it

  59. Hi Lisa! Would it be okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations? I’m glad to see you enjoyed the book as much as I did!

  60. One of my favorite books of all time is Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. It is also written in the format of exchanged letters and is at times laugh-out-loud funny and at times made me cry. You should add it to your TBR pile. It is a quick read and is an older book that you can find in paperback.

  61. This was the best book that I read in 2009. Loved the story. It is a book that I will want to read yearly. Just precious.

  62. I keep meaning to buy this book because I really want to read it but for some reason it slips my mind whenever I’m ordering books or in a book store. Weird. I was very happy to see you are sponsoring a giveaway of the Guernsey book! Thank you! I think it’s prety cool that it’s a real place, too. I didn’t know that.

    Amy
    Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

  63. I would love to read this book—please enter me to win!

  64. Sounds like a good read to me—please include me in your giveaway!!

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