Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Rating: 3 Stars
The epistolary form of writing is pretty much obsolete now. That in itself lends this book a quaint novelty. Written by the aunt-niece team of Shaffer and Barrows, it was the maiden effort of Shaffer, whose niece stepped in to add the final touches once the former became too ill to finish her book.
The plot’s momentum is generated by a series of letters exchanged between the main players. Thirty-something writer, Juliet Ashton is casting about for ideas for her next book in Post-War Britain, when she strikes up an accidental correspondence with members of a book-club in Guernsey, a British island off the coast off Normandy. Initially, she is drawn to the GL&PPPS by a shared love of books; but soon she’s intrigued by the island’s recent occupation by German forces during the war, and its impact on the lives of the islanders.
The book is an easy-reading charmer. There is more than a splash of L.M. Montgomery to the writing; with its independent-minded yet feminine heroine, the quirky cast of supporting characters, and sudden unlooked-for romance. Yet, the historical research in the book would do credit to an academic, and adds heft to what would otherwise have been an enjoyable, yet quite ordinary work of fiction.
However, with all due respect to veterans, haven’t there been enough books about WW II? That’s meant to be a rhetorical question. Let’s be resigned to the fact that, that particular cash cow is far from being milked dry.

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