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Blog > Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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Ever since I started writing book reviews about books that involved mail in some way, people have made the same recommend­ation again and again. I promised last time, so I can’t get out of it now… yes, I’ve finally read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!

Cover of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The title makes it sound a bit quirky, but it’s worth knowing going in that it actually looks at the aftermath of the Nazi occupation of Guernsey. Many of the characters describe traumatic experiences, including the experiences of prisoners of war.

It also includes a lot of references to and discussion of a past romance between an islander and a Nazi (who was kind and sympathetic to her, and to others on Guernsey, who remember him fondly). I know that among the romance community there are a lot of people, especially those with personal connections to the Holocaust, for whom these types of romances are very upsetting, due to the fact that they can valorise characters who are implicitly or explicitly condoning Nazism. It isn’t the main romance of the book, but it is important to the story, and I didn’t want to review this without at least warning readers who might find that quite upsetting.

All that said, the book definitely has plenty of charm and quirk! The whole thing is told via letters, almost without exception, aside from one case where a private diary is used. This gives lots of room for characters and relationships to shine, which I’ve always really enjoyed. It can be difficult to make it read naturally; we don’t usually explain basic facts about our lives to our regular correspondents, after all! Letters can be so revealing, but it takes reading between the lines, and the best authors make that work in fictional letters too. I found the letters in this book mostly satisfying, and it’s made a little easier by the fact that many of the characters haven’t known each other before writing.

Because the whole thing rests on letters, the plot is somewhat basic; those characters and relationships have to carry the book. I will say that I would have preferred to see a couple more letters between a particular pair of characters, to develop things a little more and allow us to see them interacting and building a relationship. I was all on board for that relationship, but we see it mostly from outside after a certain point… it’d have been nice to get a better look at their growing friendship.

The thing that surprised me most, in the end, was the setting: I didn’t really know anything about Guernsey and its history, and now I want to!

My new review here will take us a bit further afield than Guernsey: I’ll be reviewing Emmi Itäranta’s The Moonday Letters. I have lots of thoughts about it already, so I’m looking forward to writing a proper review for everyone.

If you have ideas and recommendations for a book you’d like to see me review for this blog, get in touch! I have a topic on the forum for sharing these recommendations (you’ll need to be logged in to view it, and may need to browse the forum a little to open up all the areas first), or you can comment here.

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47 comments so far

ELLIK, Russia
Good evening. Can you write a review of the book by G.G. Marquez "One Hundred Years of Solitude"? Sincerely, Ella, Russia
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Phibatola, Greece
this is actually one of my favourite books. I read it before the movie came out and the movie doesn't do it justice. I recommend this book to everyone
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SuziH, Canada
I loved this book ♥♥
I liked the movie. The scenery is fabulous!
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CorgiGirl, United States of America
I loved the book.
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HalloRia, Netherlands
I loved this book. In Dutch it's called "Island Mail" and that's the main reason I read it. But I was so glad I did!
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EllisAndersen, Netherlands
I really liked the film, which is why I ordered the book and have yet to read it.
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Wald, United States of America
Love the book and the movie! The story is very moving and I would love to visit this island one day.
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MrsPaull, United States of America
Very interesting! Thanks for the review. This one is going on my reading list.
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Indreni, United States of America
I loved this book!
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mdmsamm, Canada
I love period films and noting Mrs Crawley from Downton Abbey was in it, just added for me the most delightful afternoon. And yes quirky and predictable and moving, the set design, acting and cast is absolutely delicious. I will order the book it will make for a lovely Christmas getaway read.
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CaroLion, United States of America
Loved the book! =)
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kiven, United States of America
Great book! 5 stars!
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Flippie, Canada
I don't know yet or I like the story..maybe I will look for it and make my decision then to buy it or not.....
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Cj3024, Australia
I actually found out about this book because someone I sent a card to had recommended it in their profile. I really enjoyed reading it - postcrossing has many unexpected benefits apart from the obvious :)
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cjf3848, United States of America
I read the book several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the tech iques the author used and the many story lines. One sad part I particularly remember is the send away of the children.
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-Cool-, Philippines
Oh, I wish that these books are available locally.
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mysweetlife63, United States of America
Loved this book & regularly recommend it to other Postcrossers.
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Inselfreundin, Germany
I read the book some years ago, because I love Guernsey. IT was an absolute pleasure.
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ave, United States of America
This was an amazing book and I enjoyed the movie very much also. Such a poignant glimpse into the WWII intrigue and deprivation that so many lived through stoically. The postal correspondence and the trail it led the protagonist on was equally thrilling and intriguing as little by little she discovered threads of the tapestry of events with the villagers of Guernsey.
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BuonaFortuna, Netherlands
If you liked this book my recommendation is the novel "The Last Letter From Your Lover" by Jojo Moyes. I even liked both movies!
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BottleTreeWanderers, Australia
This is actually one of my favourite books, I love how the author managed to convey so much, through only letters. I agree, it helps that the characters didn't know each other in the beginning.
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BottleTreeWanderers, Australia
I honestly don't think that the movie does this book justice at all.
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4theloveofreading, United States of America
Guess what? I am an elementary librarian in Utah and I was able to meet the co-author Annie Barrows at a book conference last week!! She is an incredible author of many children's books. This one particular book is very special to her. Mary Ann Shafer was Annie's aunt and she loved to write so this was her first novel. What I learned was that Mary Ann got cancer during her writing process and passed away and for a tribute to her, Annie picked it up to finish it, added what was missing and, was able to visit Guernsey many times to be able to publish it. Then the opportunity for it to be a movie was an incredible experience, Annie told us the she wished her aunt could be there through it all. And that there will not be a sequel because it was mostly Mary Ann's writings. Love this book and the movie!
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KenJ, South Africa
I really enjoyed the book☺
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HalloRia, Netherlands
Thank you for your story, @4theloveofreading
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wifetoalineman, United States of America
I'm a bookworm myself and hope to read this book or watch the movie. It sounds very interesting.
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guyt, Canada
I definitely want to read this book especially since I visited Guernsey and Jersey last September. I even sent a postcard from there withe the Potato Peel Pie recipe (https://www.postcrossing.com/postcards/GG-19771).
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hauskaa_matkaa, Switzerland
Like all of you, I also love this book! In German it is called "Deine Juliet" and while reading it, I had a great desire to visit Guernsey :-).

@4theloveofreading: interesting story, thank you for sharing it!
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kburrell, United States of America
I've read this several times, enjoying it each time. I was lucky to visit Guernsey in 2019, and walking the locations of the story were fantastic!
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Yarn-Lady, United States of America
This is a favortie book of mine.
Definitely re-readable.
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Milatra_, Russia
One of my favourite books for all time!
Think that I should re-read it again 😉
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Fran12, Canada
Great book- good movie! It's hard to appreciate a film after reading a book and having made our own ''movie'' with our imagination. But some movie makers are good at it and sometime the author participate at the screenplay. Youppe!
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DeeJade, United States of America
We actually read this for our Adult Book Club at the public library where I work and I've enjoyed it quite a bit.
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LMcLerran, United States of America
Love, Love, Love this book! If you have not read it - go, get it today. Or do what I did and listen to it on audio books. It is so good!!
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RoomMay, Japan
I loved the movie, but I hadn’t read the book.
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susie_ee, Italy
Beautiful book ....and movie too 💖
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Nihonwosuki, Lithuania
I really liked the movie. I hope to be able to read the book soon!
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phoebefoil, United States of America
I love the book and the movie.
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ceoramalho, Brazil
I haven't yet read the book, but wacthed the movie and enjoyed it a lot!
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mermaidsandmailboxes, United States of America
I hunted this one down in a used book store and it was a great story. On my bookshelf permanently ❤️
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Constance1, Austria
I heard about this book years ago, but never got around to reading it. I'm in the middle of it now and thoroughly enjoying it. I wish I'd read it sooner. Very entertaining!
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specialcurry, India
I really enjoyed the movie and will be getting a copy of the book soon, now that I've read your review!
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MaevaZ, United Kingdom
Hello :) ! It would be lovely to have your review on Ariadne by Jennifer Saint it's such an interesting book and writting, it retale a greek mythology well known myth but from the women point of view.
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cspt, United States of America
I highly recommend the following nonfiction for teens and adults:
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22875069-i-will-always-write-back
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hulamunki, United States of America
I love the book and movie. Such a great story.
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fisherman, Ireland
I love both the book and the movie with stunning views of Guernsey
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GigiJordanHunter, United States of America
We read the book for our November book club choice. I had read it several years ago and did not remember much about it. I'm so glad I read it again. It is such an inspiring and historically accurate book.
Enjoyed it all over again.
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