The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.
You might be asking ‘what nonsense are Air3 Bookclub reviewing this time?’, and looking at the name of the book you would be well justified. Yet, the unusual title does not lend even a hint to the moving, emotional and historical nature of Mary Ann Shaffer’s epistolary novel, but certainly had us intrigued from the outset.
Opening in post-WWII (1946) London, we soon come to learn about the Nazi Occupation of Guernsey through the war and the incredible members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The islanders are brought together through their haphazardly founded literary society and an ever-growing love of books, leading to community and support for one another throughout the deprivation and depression felt by all during the occupation. We read individual accounts of the islanders’ experiences that could move a person whose emotions were seemingly made of flint. However what is perhaps the most interesting, heartwarming and somehow also heartbreaking is the moral confusion experienced when living day to day live among ‘the enemy’. In these hard times collaboration is inevitable and an individual nazi may come to be a likeable – or even loveable – fellow human being.
Like our non-islander protagonist, Juliet Ashton, and like Air3 Bookclub, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will make you fall in love with Guernsey for the first time and with books all over again.
Book lovers will adore this novel for defending bookshops and good literature, and for reminding us that solace can always be found in the pages of your favourite book. How fortunate we are to have a bookshop right on our campus!