Friday, 11 January 2013

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Every now and then a book comes along that is so delicious it warms you like a heated fruit pie in the middle of winter. It stays with you even when you're not reading it because the characters are so vivid and real and welcoming, they have a lingering effect. The mouthful that is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one such book. 

Written entirely in letter form, the book is set soon after the end of World War Two as one author happens to begin correspondence with a man on the isle of Guernsey and starts to learn about the hilariously named literary society to which he belongs. As their correspondence continues, Julie begins to question her new pen pal about the origins of the club. As her investigations deepen, she begins to learn about all the members and just what happened to them during the war - when they were forced to live under Nazi occupation and cut off from the rest of the country.

To tell you more of the story would not be fair as each new discovery Julie (and, in turn, the reader) makes is what makes the book such a pleasure to read. It is a touching and incredibly beautiful story, with the unique prose of each person's letters adding such an insight into their character that they leap off the pages. Readers will no doubt fall completely in love with each of them, just as Julie does and finish the book wanting to go to one of their society meetings.

5 FOBLES - a gorgeous, touching and entirely immersive delight

A film adaptation is in the works but casting issues have been delaying progress beyond that of Kate Winslet as Julie and Kenneth Branagh directing. Having read the book, I can now see why finding just the right cast for this brilliant ensemble piece is so important. Fingers crossed they do it justice! It certainly is a promising start...

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