01 September, 2008

A lovely little book

Pinch, punch, first day of the month. Speaking of punching, if the people in the flat above me don't stop making all that noise I might go up there and threaten them with a wallop.

Right. What was it I was going to talk to you about? Can't remember. I'll tell you about the book I've just read instead.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a lovely little book. This must be true as three people have said it. One is the person who sent it to me, my favourite cousin, (waves in general direction of central London) who shares my taste in books so completely that it's almost as though we were hatched from the same pod. It arrived shortly before my birthday with a Post It note informing me that 'it really is a lovely little book'. It took me about 6 hours to read it and I concur. I was telling one of my work colleagues about it today when one of my nurse friends walked in. "Are you talking about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? I've read that. It's a lovely little book." So there you have it. Funnily enough my friend told me that she'd planned on giving it to me for my birthday but when she went into the book shop near her home they didn't have any.

The main character is Juliet, a writer living in post war London. She wrote a column for a London newspaper during the war and is struggling with writers block. The book is based on the letters which pass between Juliet, her good friend Sophie, her friend and publisher Sidney and various residents on the island of Guernsey. Her correspondence with the Islanders starts when she receives a letter from a Dawsey Adams. He owns a second hand book about an author which used to belong to Juliet. She had written her name and address on the inside cover and he writes to her in the hope that as she can help him locate other books by the same author. He explains that it's hard to come by books on Guernsey and hopes that as she lives in London she can help.

A brief history lesson now follows - Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands. The others are Jersey, Alderney and Sark. They were occupied by the Germans from 1940 to 1945. They are the only parts of Britain to have been occupied. Technically they're not part of the UK as such but it's late and I can't get my head round it at the moment.

And we're back. Juliet starts to correspond with Dawsey and through this she learns about what life was like for the Islanders. Dawsey tells her about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club started by some of the Islanders in order to escape the curfew. Juliet is intrigued. Well, let's face it, who wouldn't be with a title like that?

Her interest in the history of the Islanders piqued, she decides to pay a visit to Guernsey to learn more. Once there she meets the Society members and seems to melt effortlessly into their day to day lives.

I won't say too much in case you decide to read it. I will say that it reminded me of 84 Charing Cross Road. They're both based on letters and they're both love stories, although not necessarily in the sense of romance.

Sadly, the book was the authors first and last. Mary Ann Shaffer died last year. She only began writing in her 60s after being encouraged to do so by members of her book club. It's a great shame that she didn't start sooner.

Do read it. It's not Proust but it is a lovely little book.

5 comments:

Ambridge Fan of Chelmsford said...

So glad that you liked it - it truly is a lovely little book.

Foodycat said...

It sounds like a lovely little book! I will place it on my amazon wishlist!

SSS said...

Foodycat, wait till you read it. You'll love it!

mscrankypants said...

Argh, how did I miss a post with a book recommendation *slaps RSS feeder thingo about the head*.

I like lovely little books -- it's on my list!

SSS said...

I am technologically challenged and have no idea what an RSS feeder is. Am I missing out?

And anyway, I've already recommended a book for you on your blog!