Audiobook Review: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society

25 May

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Mary Ann Shaffer who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

Annie Barrows was born in 1962 in San Diego, California, but quickly moved to a small town called San Anselmo in the San Francisco Bay Area. She spent most of her childhood at the library. She wouldn’t leave, so they hired her to shelve books at the age of twelve.

Annie attended UC Berkeley and received a B. A. in Medieval History. She knows more than the average person about 3rd century saints. Under the impression that a career in publishing meant she’d get to read a lot, Annie became a proofreader at an art magazine and later an editor at a textbook publishing company. In 1988, Chronicle Books hired Annie as an editorial assistant, from which platform she became successively assistant editor, managing editor, Editor, and Senior Editor. Somewhere in this trajectory, she acquired Griffin & Sabine, Chronicle’s first New York Times best seller.

In 1996, Annie received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College and had a baby, a confluence of events that persuaded her to leave editorial work and move into writing. She wrote several non-fiction books on topics ranging from fortune-telling to opera before turning her attention to children’s books. In 2006, the first book in her children’s series, Ivy + Bean was published. This title, an ALA Notable Book for 2007, was followed by nine others. The Ivy + Bean series appears with some regularity on the New York Times best-seller list and a number of other national best-seller lists. The Ivy + Bean books have been translated into fourteen languages; in 2013 Ivy + Bean: The Musical premiered in the San Francisco Bay Area. A novel for older children, The Magic Half, was published by BloomsburyUSA in 2008. Its sequel, Magic in the Mix, came out in 2014.

In addition to her children’s books, Annie is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was published by The Dial Press in 2008. A New York Times best-seller, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been published in thirty-seven countries and thirty-two languages.

Annie lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.


My Impressions:

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society was an immediate success, becoming a world-wide bestseller. Ten years after its publication it is still going strong, especially with the release of the movie this summer. My book club, Page Turners, selected it for our May discussion. Well, due to traveling members and other obligations, our meeting had a sparse attendance. And the two others besides me that were there hadn’t yet finished the book. But that certainly didn’t keep me from talking about this excellent book. Told completely in letters, the novel unfolds the story of Guernsey, a little thought of island in the English Channel. I was fascinated by the background of the story and the setting. But it was the characters that emerged and their resilience and courage in the face of enemy occupation that captured my heart. The two others that attended our meeting found the epistolary style hard to connect with. I think that by listening to the audiobook, that obstacle was removed for me. I immediately connected with Juliet, Dawsey, Isola, Elizabeth, and the others that had their voices heard through their and others’ letters. The book has some wonderfully funny parts, but poignancy as well. I felt myself part of the Guernsey community as they faced privation and uncertainty, yet never lost hope that their release from the the German occupation would come. Besides being a wonderful look into a place and time unknown to me, I felt the book was relevant for my life today.

I highly recommend The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society. It quickly captured my imagination and has stayed with me long after the final page.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I bought the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


4 Responses to “Audiobook Review: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society”

  1. Barbara H. May 25, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

    I have heard wonderful things about this book for years but just haven’t gotten to it. I want to before seeing the movie.

    • rbclibrary May 25, 2018 at 7:21 pm #

      I think it’s always best to read the book first. 😉 Hope you enjoy it!

  2. Emma May 26, 2018 at 9:01 am #

    ** Coming by from Semicolon’s Saturday Review of Books**

    I keep meaning to read this and am annoyed I didn’t get to it before the film was released .. but I will eventually get to it!

    • rbclibrary May 26, 2018 at 9:21 am #

      Looks like you have until August if you live in the US.

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