The Olympics seem to have robbed me of any reading momentum I had toward my impossible goal of reading 100 books this year. That plus the fact that I’m reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise which I’m slogging my way through like mud in a World War one trench. Where’s People magazine when you really need it? Anyways, some time ago, I did start and then put down The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. An improbable title which has taken some commitment on my part to memorize not unlike the numbers I am trying to learn in Spanish.
The main reason I put down the book was because I couldn’t find it. But I would have been motivated to find it a lot sooner if the letter writing form which the novel assumes, didn’t confuse quite as much as it did.
Humour is not unlike crack cocaine. When you’re hooked you’re hooked and the main character (or letter writer) Juliette has enough of a quirky, funny, irreverent personality to get me back on the letter chain trying to sort out who’s writing to who.If you can get through that than this is a delightful read.
The story takes place in the aftermath of the Second World War in London and Guernsey (hey now I know were Guernsey is and I want to go!) Juliette, the main character is also known as Izzie Bickerstaff, newspaper columnist at large, who serves up war’s tragedy with skewering humour and aplomb.
One day she receives a letter from a stranger who is also a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and so begins a journey through letters to the life and times of the people who survived the German occupation of Guernsey.
Out of the horrors of war and the displacement a new social order is created where people like Juliette and her new friends at the Literary society re-form themselves into chosen families. Need and necessity create new relationships and allows the noblitiy of every day people to rise in the face of adversity.
Humour abounds in this book and brings the charcaters to life in a very real way. If I had a criticism it would be that the characters’ quirkiness sometimes make them seem somewhat one dimensional and the fairy tale ending seems a bit predictable and light. But hey this was a fun read that serves up war in a light way. I quite enjoyed it.