The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Whenever I take a trip, I deliberate about which books I should bring.  Which is truly not necessary whenever I’m visiting my family.  Because there are always wonderful books waiting for me there.  This is the book that was waiting for me in Maine.  Like The Thirteenth Tale,  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a book whose author understands the allure of a reading life. 

The Channel Island of Guernsey was occupied by the Germans in WWII.  With no communication with the outside world allowed, a group of neighbors and friends in the closed community found great comfort in reading books together.  The book is epistolary – written as a series of letters between Juliet, a London journalist, and members of the Society, who tell their story after the war.   I found myself going back and checking, reading carefully to catch subtle details and hints.   

The most persuasive words are quotes from the book itself – no spoilers, I promise. 

I don’t want to be married just to be married.  I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.  (p. 8) (my emphasis)
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.  (p.11) [Yes!  Word perfect quote.]  

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.  Other Islanders asked to join us, and our evenings together became bright, lively times–we could almost forget, now and then, the darkness outside. (p.51)

Spring is nearly here.  I’m almost warm in my puddle of sunshine. (p.98)

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.  (p.116)

This 2008 book is the perfect-for-fall, warm, easy read.  A few evenings of light-but-not-fluffy reading.  If this book were a food it would be a bowl of soup, perhaps butternut squash soup with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Thanks to you, my beloved sister-in-law Kathleen.  What percentage of my reading, I wonder, has been influenced by you? 

Addendum:  I’ve also described this as Huckleberry Pie reading: healthy sweet. 

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8 thoughts on “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

  1. Well, didn’t the name of the book just grab you right off the bat?! Wow! Sounds fun. I’m wondering if you’ve yet seen or gotten into The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? My dad is ga-ga over it already! 500+ pages….sigh…..

  2. @LimboLady – Mel, never heard of it until your comment.  I checked on PaperBackSwap and one edition has 740 requesting it.  It looks good, though, and our library has it.  @Kathy – Thanks for your comment, Kathy.  I went to your site and read your review of Guernsey.  It does make you want to visit there, doesn’t it?  I’ve had a long fascination with the Channel Islands.

Comments are cinnamon on my oatmeal!

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