New Release Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Film Tie-In by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society…

About the Book:

A celebration of literature, love, and the power of the human spirit, this warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining novel is the story of an English author living in the shadow of World War II and the writing project that will dramatically change her life. An international bestseller.

‘I can’t remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one. Treat yourself to this book, please–I can’t recommend it highly enough.’
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

The beloved, life-affirming international bestseller–now a major film coming in April 2018, starring Lily James, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton.


It’s 1946. The war is over, and Juliet Ashton has writer’s block. But when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey–a total stranger living halfway across the Channel, who has come across her name written in a second hand book–she enters into a correspondence with him, and in time with all the members of the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


Through their letters, the society tell Juliet about life on the island, their love of books–and the long shadow cast by their time living under German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for the island, changing her life forever.


Gloriously honest, enchanting and funny, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is sure to win your heart.




My Thoughts:

This is a novel that I have been meaning to read for YEARS! It’s been recommended to me countless times by friends and I even bought the e-book a few years ago, but it seemed to disappear in my long library list and as time went on, I forgot I hadn’t read it. A few weeks ago, the movie trailer popped up in my Facebook feed – I have a lot of friends who are fans of the novel – and of course I watched it, and then promptly decided I needed to read the book asap. And then I didn’t. Until this lovely edition of the film tie-in landed in my letter box, courtesy of Allen and Unwin, upon which I picked it up without delay – and actually read it this time.


And I loved it. Really enjoyed it immensely. You wouldn’t think that a whole novel could play out through the medium of letters, but this one does, and it’s astonishingly good too. It actually took me back to the days before email and social media. After I moved interstate, my friends and I used to write the most luxuriously long letters to each other. Sometimes it would take days to complete one because you would keep returning to it, adding more stories before finally sending it before the last mail run of the week. And stamps were only 30 cents, so it was affordable, even to a poor teenager. I enjoyed the nostalgia this novel afforded me, of settling down to read a good, long letter.


The personalities of each character emerged from their letters vividly, with all of the dots joining up nicely as stories were swapped and expanded upon. I thought it was just so lovely how Dawsey wrote to Juliet, a complete stranger whose details he found in a second hand book, and from there, the floodgates were thrown open, culminating in Juliet travelling to the island and writing a book about Guernsey’s WWII occupation by the German forces. The connectedness of these characters was so heartfelt, the fondness that grew via the page, so that when they finally all met Juliet, she fit right in straight away. As did Sidney when it was his turn to visit the island. And it all started with a book, not only Juliet’s friendship with the society, but for each of the members as well. Another aspect of this story that I adored. The act of reading bringing people together and cementing lifelong friendships. It really is the ultimate novel about a bookclub.


At the heart of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a story of suffering and endurance. I am quite certain that I was aware before reading this novel of the German occupation of the English Channel islands, but only in a passing sense. I knew it had happened, but nothing more than that. The history of this little island’s occupation is richly detailed throughout the novel with such honesty and poignancy. There is a matter-of-fact tone about the correspondence that will have you laughing out loud one moment and then wiping your tears in another. Guernsey’s experiences during the war just highlight how far reaching the horror was; and how it ruined people’s lives on so many levels down through generations. The hope attached to banding together as a community, the demonstration of creating small joys within the darkest of times, and the resistance measured in the comforting timelessness of literature; and above all, friendship, sometimes found in the most unlikely of places. So much is conveyed through the letters that make up this novel, and it all comes together with seamless perfection, resulting in the most memorable story. It really is a literary triumph.


Thanks is extended to Allen and Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Film Tie-In for review.

About the Authors:

Mary Ann Shaffer was born in 1934 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. She worked as an editor, a librarian and in bookshops. She became interested in Guernsey while visiting London in 1976. On a whim, she decided to fly to Guernsey but became stranded there as a heavy fog descended and no boats or planes were permitted to leave the island. Many years later, in her seventies, when goaded by her own literary club to write a book, Mary Ann naturally thought of Guernsey. She died in 2008, just before her book was published.


Annie Barrows, Mary Ann’s niece, completed the novel’s revisions after Mary Ann fell ill. She was an editor at Chronicle Books before becoming a full time writer and is the author of the highly acclaimed children’s series Ivy and Bean and The Magic Half. Annie lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Movie Trailer:


7 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Film Tie-In by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  1. I read this when it came out – in fact, it was a proof copy from A&U, which is something I really don’t like doing and don’t do now. I enjoyed it too, though it was a little bit “cute” in parts for me. This is what I wrote to my friend (way before blogging): “It was delightful – stretches the disbelief a little, but not unreasonably as it’s essentially a romance. I think it started stronger than it ended but it was a fun read.” The tougher war history aspect was an eye-opener for me. I hadn’t known that history in those islands – at least not in that specific detail. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing the film.

    Liked by 1 person

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