Here is a book that has languished on my (incredibly long) to-be-read list for years. It’s been recommended many times; indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has read this book and not adored it. I’m here to say that if it’s been on your to-be-read list too, then read it now. And if it wasn’t on your radar before, then skip adding it to your to-be-read list, and just dive in immediately.
The year is 1946: Britain is recovering from the Second World War and the mail service has finally been restored to the previously German-occupied Channel Island of Guernsey. Dawsey, a pig farmer turned booklover, connects with Juliet, a recently successful London author looking for a new story to tell, all thanks to the inscription inside of an old book. A lively correspondence begins, and it doesn’t take long before Juliet is exchanging letters with all of Dawsey’s best friends and neighbours, and planning a trip to the small Channel Island to visit.
What ensues is mix of delightfully quaint small-town moments mixed with sobering recollections of the horrors of war. The Occupation lasted for five years in Guernsey, and its nuances are brought to life in the most human of ways by the author’s gorgeous writing and the talents of the narration cast. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows wrote in epistolary form, i.e. storytelling through letters, diary entries and the like. Perspectives, and therefore narration, constantly rotate depending on the letter-writer. Far from being confusing, this narrative style is utterly compelling, and in the hands of such expert voice talent, make for a sparkling listening experience.
A laugh-out-loud, heartbreakingly bittersweet modern classic, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a testament to and a celebration of the power of books.
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