18 June 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I read this, my thoughts occasionally strayed to the future of the epistolary novel in this era of e-mail. Yes, you can set the book in the past, but more important is how the younger, e-mail/text generation will use this device.

The book is charming. The voices of the various writers are wonderfully realized, with such personality and drama and life that you want to learn more about them. Because there are two authors, I wondered if one took on the dominant voice (Juliet) while the other wrote the other letters. The mixture of types of people and letters/cables keep readers interested, and you find yourself wondering who you'll meet next and what their story will be.

As with Reading Lolita in Tehran, there's less about the books than one might have hoped, although the reactions to a very eclectic group of books are wonderful. How many other books mix Marcus Aurelius, Phrenology, Charles Lamb and Anne Bronte? Yes, this is a little like 84 Charing Cross Road, but there is so much more to this than books and casual daily interaction. The love triangles, the interconnectedness of the characters... so well realized.

The Channel Islands and their experiences during WWII are not that well known in the US, and now I have to do more research into them and their overall history. My biggest complaint is that there's no list of suggested readings for others in the same boat.

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1 comment:

  1. "Charming" is the perfect word for this book. Great review!

    Even though both authors are credited, I believe Shaffer wrote the whole thing and Barrows (who is her niece) stepped in at the end when her aunt's health made it impossible for her to complete the final edits on the manuscript.