Potato pie...

I really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It's a charming feel good book, and the epistolary format works very well. It gives a sense of immediacy, and of reality to the whole work. Gentle, amusing and moving, the writing style reminded me very strongly of Dodie Smith and Eva Rice. Some of the historical detail is excellent, and I think that will actually remain with me longer than memories of the fictional side. Some images were unforgettable - the casual abuse of the slave workers, and the killing of the island's pets most notably.

I did feel occasionally that the tone was a little anachronistic. Certainly some of the attitudes seem unlikely for the time - would the islanders really have been so well disposed to the illegitimate child of an enemy soldier, however nice a guy he may have been? There was also a real gap at the heart of the narrative as far as the child's father was concerned - descriptions of him were minimal, and so I was never entirely convinced by the relationship. This may possibly have been because of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the writing of the novel. Mary Ann Shaffer was taken seriously ill shortly after the book had been accepted for publication, and her niece had to take over some major re-writes. I think her niece did an excellent job - the joins are quite seamless, and I have no idea who wrote what - indeed if I hadn't known, I would have thought that it had all come from one pen, but I think the lover may have slipped through the gap between the two novelists.

It's extremely readable, I read it at high speed and thoroughly enjoyed it even though I don't think it's error free. Certainly something to read to boost your spirits, and one for book lovers everywhere as it's a real celebration of the love of reading - I cheered Juliet kicking out the boyfriend who tried to store her beloved books in the cellar, I'm sure I would have done exactly the same.


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