Books, Reading, Review
Comments 6

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Cover of "The Guernsey Literary and Potat...

I finished this book last night and I am at a loss what to say about it. I loved it so much that no words seem quite adequate to describe it. It’s one of those books that just has to be loved and read over and over again. It’s the book that you tell all your friends to read because it’s so amazing and for a nice change, they do actually like it (as opposed to all the other books you’ve recommended over the years). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a book for people who love to read.

Juliet Ashton is an author who has found her fame through a light-hearted account of World War II and is now suffering from a small case of writer’s block. One day a letter arrives in the post from Dawsey Adams, a man living on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Dawsey has found himself in possession of a book that once belonged to Juliet. He is so taken with the author that he has written to her to see if she can help him find more books by the author. So begins Juliet’s relationship and correspondence with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was created by accident during the German occupation of the island during the war. Through letters from the members of The Society, Juliet begins to discover what life was like during the occupation by the Germans and how important The Society has been for her new friends.

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”

The above quote sums up everything that is good about this book. While the quote relates more to how we end up with books that have become special to us, it held a somewhat different meaning for me. I have often felt (particularly of late) that you don’t read certain books until you are meant to – they will end up in your hands at just the right moment, when they will have more meaning to you than they would have otherwise. It may just be coincidence rather than fate, but I like to think that the reason I haven’t read that book yet, despite looking at it in the bookshop for years, is because I just wasn’t meant to yet.

RATING – 10 out of 10. Wonderful from front to back and would probably be just as wonderful back to front.

WHO SHOULD READ IT – Do you like reading? Yes? Then this is the book for you!

WHO YOU’LL LOVE – I must confess to being a little bit (ok, a lot) in love with Dawsey Adams. He’s like Mr Darcy, but not fancy and rich.

FAVOURITE QUOTE – Aside from the one already mentioned, I really love this one, mostly because this exact thing has happened to me so many times: “That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you on to another book, and another bit there will lead you on to a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” (Juliet to Dawsey, on the subject of reading)


  1. Pingback: Quote by Mary Ann Shaffer | Belletristic Book Babes

  2. Pingback: Booker Award | bitsnbooks

  3. Isn’t it a comfort to know there are books out there like this one just waiting for that right time to land on your lap and be read. I sometimes look at my bookshelf wondering which one it is that I’m yet unaware of and it is the tiny thing mentioned in the quote that suddenly brings that book to light and it is decided that the time is now.

    I had that recently when a poet friend mentioned ‘Prodigal Summer’ to me and that book has been on my shelf more than 7 years because I recognise the price tag in NZ$’s.

    Mary Ann Shaffer’s book is such a find, I had one of my French students read it (first in French and then we swapped books, I gave her my English version and I then started to read the letters myself again in French). My student loved it so much she went to Guernsey on her next holiday, while she was in Malo!

    It is a wonderful story also of the author, the work of a lifetime, and how she was stuck in that little airport and bought all the history books of the island and this gem of a story grew and grew over the years to become this wonderful volume of letters. Great review!


    • I couldn’t have said it better. I tend to pay more attention these days when I’m reading and I’m seeing more. For example, the word “bereft” has stuck out like a sore thumb in the book I am currently reading and also the one I just finished, all thanks to me reading a book called Bereft. That one word has a different meaning for me now.

      I’m so jealous that your student went to Guernsey – I was actually thinking about planning a holiday there myself, it sounds so lovely. Did she enjoy it? I think I would be a little hesitant to go though. I wouldn’t want the wonderful picture of it that I have in my mind to be ruined somehow.

      And I found Mary Ann Shaffer’s writing to be so wonderful. I truly wish that she had been able to write more books. I was unsure at first as the whether I would get into reading a lot of letters, but I now believe that the book could not have been written in any other way.


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