Friday, April 8, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

By: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 4/5

On the Story:
Interesting story, unexpected in the nature of the topic (I would have known if I read the back -YES). I give this book the 4 stars because maybe I am tired of the WWII stories. For a while in the late1990s there was a huge move to put out many books and movies with the same topic. I am not dismissing the importance of the topic and the gruesome things that happened.

This book has many interesting characters, and unexpectedly is written in letters back and forth.  Juliet and her alter ego Izzy are the main writers of the story, focusing on her friendship with the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  The main draw is Juliet's stay on the island to write a book on reading during the Nazi occupation of the British Guernsey Islands. Here she meets fantastic characters: Isola - the looney postion maker, Dawsey- the silent brooding guy, Ameilia - the older motherly figure, Kit, and most importantly Elizabeth.

There are other characters, such as Sydney and Sophie and Mark, and they all play an integral part of the story at large. So why place the story on the island? Yes historical fiction, and learning about an occupation that you don't hear very much of. This I appreciated than stories in Berlin or the French occupation. I also think that the book setting made the war feel differently, and it was a different war for those people - or at least I can assume. There were different interactions between the islanders and Nazis. Can anyone truly imagine the isolation of that island and the unrest of not knowing? Is that any different than any other country and their lack of communication during the war.

This book is unlike other books, because maybe it is not as harsh, it certainly has humor in it, including the pig roast and the two drinking buddies story.

So what is the author trying to say?!?!!? Was it easier to write the story in letter form so that you can get a better sense of each individual's belief and background? Maybe.... I feel like I know Juliet better because it is from her own hand that I am reading. I feel like understand Elizabeth's character because  of how everyone viewed her. What if in the truth, Elizabeth was a conniving person that wanted to use everyone and it was her appearance that the islanders really knew. We never know. 

The ending... yes it was like many fictional books and I wished it had more more real.


I wish she didn't get with Dawsey and have Kit as her own kid. It would have been more real if she and Mark got married and he whisked her off to America. I feel like life is harsh and it shouldn't not have ended as such a happy fairy tale.

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