Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A woman I barely know gave me a copy of this when I helped her put a case of wine in her trunk (No. That is not a filthy euphemism. I really did load wine in the trunk of her car). When I saw the book and asked if she'd read it, she neither raved nor railed about it but simply told me to take it and enjoy.
I cannot recall the last time I was so utterly charmed by a novel (maybe Water for Elephants?) and I am so glad I read this little gem.
An epistolary novel that reminded me a little of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, Guernsey is peopled with an array of characters I grew to like, then love, in the short span of the book and evoked a time and place in history that made me want to learn more.
Like most good Americans, I know next to nothing about the Channel Islands: I'd heard of Guernsey because of their cows and Jersey because of the attractive sportswear. Otherwise, bupkis. Shaffer and Barrows make the place seem idyllic despite the post-World War II time frame and the attendant hardships. An eye-opener, historically speaking: Britain simply stopped defending the archipelago, allowing the Nazis to hold it for five years. Nazis being Nazis, it was a nasty business.
The book reads quickly, the story is a pleasure to wrap oneself in, and it is a long afternoon well-spent. And thank you, Sondra.