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

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“Days were grey with hard work and evenings were black from boredom.  Everyone was sickly from so little nourishment and bleak from wondering if it would ever end.  We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.  Elizabeth used to say a poem.  I don’t remember all of it, but it began “Is it so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done, to have advanced true friends?” It isn’t.”

Why don’t we write letters anymore?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a narrative advanced solely by a series of letters written between several characters.  It was a recommendation from my mom (and it’s a Heather’s Pick from Chapters), so I was expecting not to like it.  I was pleasantly surprised.  And, now I want to write letters, instead of texts.

If this be the last book I read for Bookstravaganza (which is likely, on this second last day), it’s a particularly poignant book to end with.  It’s about a group of people who started a literary society on the British Channel Island of Guernsey during the German Occupation in the second World War, and the writer who finds out about them in 1946.  They got together to read first as an excuse to the German soldiers, and then it became a full gathering where they were able to at least numb some of the darkness and pain inflicted by the war.  This writer, Juliet, writes letters to the island’s inhabitants as she learns about their society, and back and forth to her friends and her editor, and though this is the first time I’ve ever read a book written entirely in this fashion, I think it really works.

None of the people of Guernsey had any idea what a literary society or a book club was supposed to be like, so long as the company was good, and there was food. Sounds like KAMA Book Club, the book club I’m in with many of the lovely Bookstravaganza readers.

Reading is a way to bypass the darkness and tragedy that is happening in real life, to surround yourself with true friends and to share beautiful words with them.  In a way, Bookstravaganza has been a way to distract myself from a lot of the sadness that is in my life right now, devouring book after book and finding comfort in all of these varied worlds and characters.

So, all in all, I want everyone to read this book.  Then, I want us all to start writing letters.  Are you in?

Books read: 19

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