January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. (blurb taken from Goodreads)
April is turning out to be a wonderful reading month for me because this was the second book I’ve read and it was spectacular. I cried at times and laughed at the jokes but what this book offers most is the sense of kinship and the importance of stories and kindness and friends. It is a heartbreaking portrayal of wartime difficulties and the devastating consequences that followed. It is one of those books that I think would appeal to a variety of readers, no matter their genre preferences.
The epistolary format was such a fun way to portray the different personalities and to share their personal stories and different ways of seeing the world. Each character was meticulously crafted though of course the story is centred around the members of the society. My favourite character was Isola, I just found her so funny and peculiar.
The historical background was pretty hard to digest, because we are talking about the atrocities that occured during the WWII and you cannot make them into less horrendous than they really were. The book gives just enough (and at the same time far too much) to learn what happened to the people of Guernsey during the German occupation and what happened to those that were sent to concentration camps.
What I loved about this book was the sense of hope that lies in its pages. Despite the fact that we see so much of what occured during the war, we still see hope and the possibility that it will get better. I think that is a strong message and something that the world needed at that time. We see such a love of books that can transcend even decades and the most awful circumstances in which we may find ourselves. Books, stories, are what save us from ourselves.
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, especially to avid readers who can appreciate the power of storytelling. A word of warning, though: this book will take a piece of your soul and claim it as its own. Bring tissues.