It is 1946. London writer and war-time columnist, Juliet Ashton is searching in vain for her next project when per chance she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey.
In the letter, he tells her he has a copy of a book she once owned by Charles Lamb and wishes to know how he can acquire more titles by the author. He is one of the founding members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Juliet is immediately intrigued. She begins corresponding with society members and so, through a series of letters, unfolds the story.
One of the many touching aspects of the book is that it was written by a 70-year-old first time author and former librarian, Mary Ann Shaffer.
Not long after the sale of the manuscript, her health failed and her writer niece, Annie Burrows took over editing. The author died before her book was in print, but what a legacy she left behind.
Reminiscent of Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road, the story is told purely through the words of the various characters by means of letters to Juliet, and her return correspondence.
Over time, Juliet comes to paint a picture of what it was like to live on the island while under German occupation and the seeds for a book are sown.
The quaint, poignant and humorous letters reveal the quirky characters of the members and Juliet finds her life taking a different course, so drawn is she to these delightful people, each with a captivating story to tell.
She finally visits the island and falls in love with its rugged beauty and its welcoming, eccentric characters—an unexpected touch of romance and heart-warming bond with a young girl brings this book to a charming end.
I would agree with the blurb—‘when was the last time you read a book that made you feel really good?’
This one certainly does.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows
Published by Allen and Unwin