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Ophelia

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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This is the first thread I've ever started so fingers crossed that I have put everything in the right place!

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel in a very similar style to Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road so I suspect that if you enjoyed that then you will enjoy this. I must admit, the title was the reason I chose this as my first post-thesis read; I was desperate for something easy going and comforting but what I wasn't expecting was to fall in love with so many characters so quickly. This is the sort of charming book that you want to devour but then loiter over towards the end for fear of it being over too soon.

 

The narrative consists of letters between a writer, Juliet, who is struggling to come to terms with post-war London and the prospect of starting a new book and other characters, such as her close friend and editor, Sidney and the eponymous Guernsey Literary Society. The epistolary relationships are speedily established and soon confidences are being exchanged about what life was like for the Islanders during the German occupation. Books are of course integral to the plot, a second hand copy of Charles Lamb is responsible for the initial introductions and there is also a gentle love story that gives the ending momentum but by no means dominates the story.

 

The books main strengths are the way Mary Ann Shaffer was able to evoke the atmosphere of Guernsey, no mean feat considering she was an American, and of course, the wonderful characters. I'm sure that accusations of it being slightly twee in places could be partly justified, but it never becomes overly sugary. In fact it is often dark and even desperately sad in places.

 

Thoroughly and unexpectedly enjoyable, I only wish there was more to look forward to from this writer but sadly, she died earlier this year and the manuscript of her only novel was completed by her niece. I look forward to hearing whether anyone on BGO hated this or loved it as I did.

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I didn't realise she had died, I was looking forward to more.

I loved this book and also fell in love with the characters, yes it is quaint but also deals with a lot of matters.

I don't know what happened in Guernsey during the war but she certainly created some strong impressions, I may even go search out some history to see whether much is as she described it.

I listened to this as an audiobook that I got from the library, this version had just one single female reader yet she made every character come alive.

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After waiting for eight months for this book I polished it off in under 24 hours. It was a delight, charming but not too sugary with a definiate punch near the end and three weeks after finishing it I'm still wondering if Juliet made the right choices. Quite some book when the charecters stay with you for that long.

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I went for it for the title - I to thought it would be an easy read with a nice feel-good story. It surprised me how real it felt - I think she and her neice did it justice.

 

I also love 84 Charing Cross Road, a brilliant book very much a similar book now that you mention it.

 

Lorna

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Hi all, just wanted to say I'm 3/4 of the way through the book, & I'm loving it! As Ophelia suggested, I'm not looking forward to coming to the end. Sorry I was late to the thread, but I'm new to town ;)

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So, Lunababymoonchild, did you read this book? If yes, what did you think? What are you currently reading? And, I've never been a member of any forum before...is it considered okay to shorten up people's user names when you address them? :scratchhe

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And, I've never been a member of any forum before...is it considered okay to shorten up people's user names when you address them? :scratchhe
Hi Wilkie, I'd say you're fine with shortening names, happens round here all the time and no-one has claimed to be offended yet. Although I'm not sure I'd start calling David "Dave"... ;)

 

I read this book a while back, it was a quick and fun read but a bit saccharine for my tastes. The writing style seemed to be trying hard to evoke a different age. OK, it was set post-war, but I don't think a modern book should pretend to be old-fashioned.

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So, Lunababymoonchild, did you read this book? If yes, what did you think? What are you currently reading? And, I've never been a member of any forum before...is it considered okay to shorten up people's user names when you address them? :scratchhe
No, I haven't read this one, currently reading The Case For God by Karen Armstrong and yes it's considered okay to shorten people's user names when addressing them, (especially mine) so Luna is fine or Lbmc as has been done in the past.

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I enjoyed this book a lot. I didn't know anything about what happened in Guernsey during WWII and I found the characters interesting and varied. I also thought the letter writing style was engaging. However I am not one for love stories, so I found that aspect distracting. But my daughter, who is much more warm-hearted than I, loved every bit of it. I think it's well worth the read.

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Like Jen, I find this too coy and sweet for my taste. It is similar to (imitated?) 84 Charing Cross Road and Dear Daddy Longlegs, both of which I loved but maybe now that I am older, or maybe because it is not original this book does not work for me. I like the epistolary style in books, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, was the first to be written like this and although it goes on rather, it is a very gripping book. Guernsey L&PPS seems to me not only derivative but also unconvincing. Do uneducaed workmen write in the same style as sophisticated American women? It is ages since I read 84 Charing ross Road but I seem to remember that the two writers of the letters wrote in different identifiable styles. On the positive side, it is interesting to learn about Guerney's experience during the war.

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I've just finished this. I agree with others that it verged on the twee side in places, and the characterisation of the islanders was idealistic at times, but I did enjoy it as a short comfort read.

The details of the wartime experiences were pretty dark and stopped the book becoming too sugary for me. I could see the denouement coming a mile off, but it was fun seeing it get there.

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One of our latest book club reads.

These are some of the comments made during our discussion.

When I first started this, I thought it was a very superficial book but it grew on me quite quickly. A novel about the history of the island of Guernsey during World War II, how the war affects people, often in a bad way and sometimes in a good one, about friendship and people standing up for each other, a book about people getting together to share their love for literature and their need for communication, and food, about how people can get creative when in need, a story that shows how people were getting along in pre-internet and pre-mobile phone times, even in pre-phone times. People actually sat down and wrote letters, we saw how beautiful letter writing is and how it teaches us patience.

I really like this book, it’s a quick and easy read with a good message, lively characters, interesting accounts, humoristic, emotional, very descriptive.

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Came upon this quite by accident...loaned to a friend by her sister, and I was attracted by the odd title. I found the characters quite engaging and truly, as an American, had little inkling of the suffering of Channel Islanders during WWII. The at times dark historical narrative saves the book from being overly sugary. I truly enjoyed it.

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Found this:

 

2nd February 2012 10:48 AM

BAS

 

I bought this book because my mother,who is no longer with us, was evacuated from Guernsey during the war and I was curious to get some insight into this episode in her life which really changed the course of it.

 

I agree with other posts that it could be a little on the sentimental side at times, but the children leaving their families to go to the mainland was very moving for me - my mother would have been amongst those and was just 11 years old.

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For those drawn to this thread by the newly released film version, and to those who found the book too romantic:

If you would like to read more about Guernsey  during WWII then I recommend very highly the, eminently readable, fictional memoir I referred to above, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. Read  BGO members thoughts on it here

 

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Never really fancied this book, but the trailer for the film looks pretty good. Has anyone seen it yet?

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