Monday, August 25, 2008

What We're Reading:The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those rare books that you'll want to hand to everyone you know and say, "Here, read this!" It is a celebration of the healing power of literature, love, and the human spirit.

Through a series of letters, you meet Juliet Ashton, an English author whose personal losses during the Second World War have not diminished her humor, sense of fair play, or love of the written word. One day she begins a correspondence that changes her life forever. A man, Dawsey Adams, has come across a secondhand book with Juliet's name in it. He writes to ask her if she knows of any other books published by the same writer. Dawsey lives on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands recently liberated from Nazi control, and has been out of touch with England throughout the war years.

Thus begins to unfold the story of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the brave men and women whose love of good books helped them survive the terrors and deprivations suffered under German occupation. Juliet is soon captivated by their stories as she comes to know the members through their remarkable correspondence.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, and frequently forget that these are only characters in a book, not your friends and neighbors. Before long, you will have fallen in love with these Guernsey Islanders. Their story is like a beautiful bouquet of rose buds. As the flowers bloom, more and more layers are revealed.

Sadly, Mary Ann Shaffer, the author of this enchanting tale, passed away before she could see the amazing popularity of her book. Her niece, Annie Barrows, completed the book for publication. Before her death, Shaffer wrote "I hope too that my book will illuminate my belief that love of art--be it poetry, storytelling, painting, sculpture, or music--enables people to transcend any barriers man has yet devised."

Read and enjoy!

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