Monday, 5 November 2012

The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

I read this book for the first time a couple of years ago, and recently I re-read it, and fell in love with it again.

The story is set in 1946 when the war is over, but the damage done by the bombs is still visible and rationing is a daily problem for everyone.
Juliet Ashton is a writer, who wrote cheerful columns during the war and is now looking for a topic for a book. She receives a letter from the isle of Guernsey, from a man called Dawsey Adams. He found her address in a second hand book she once owned about the writer Charles Lamb and he asks her if she can recommend more books by Charles Lamb. He mentions in his letter the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Juliet is intrigued. She starts corresponding with Dawsey and the other members of the society and finds out how the residents of Guernsey lived during the war and the German occupation and which role their friend Elizabeth played. Juliet finally decides to go to Guernsey herself to meet everybody in person and is welcomed by the eccentric society.

The book is told through the letters Juliet writes to the members of the society in Guernsey and to her friend and publisher, and the letters she receives from them. The epistolary novel was quite popular in the 18th century, but after that not so much. I think the form really works in this book.

The tone of ‘The Guernsey literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ is funny and witty, but the story has more layers than that. First there is also the story of the German occupation. The Channel Islands were the only part of Britain that were occupied during the war. Here in the Netherlands we were also occupied, so we can relate to this, although Guernsey being a small island made the situation even more dire.
In situations like these people need courage, and Elizabeth had courage. She was very brave. But other people also had courage, perhaps not always so visible, but no less important.
The final thing that is important in this novel is the love for books. Books that give people hope, new insights and new perspectives. It does not matter if it is a book by Seneca or Jane Austen, each book comes to the person who need it the most.

I loved this book and I can recommend it to everybody who wants to read a heartwarming tale about books, courage and love.

2 comments:

  1. It does make me think somehow of Het Genootschap ter Bevordering van Eb & Vloed in Dordrecht.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The same sort of eccentrics can be found in Dordrecht, I am sure. And the same love of books of course!!!

    kind regards,

    ReplyDelete

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