The backstory: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was one of the two selections for my new book club last month. I reviewed Sister, the other selection, yesterday. Tomorrow I'll opine about our joint discussion of the books, dish on my new book club, and tell you what we're reading for next month.
The basics: "As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ahston discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island." (I liked this description from my library's catalog.)
My thoughts: It's true, I never would have read this book if not for book club. I'm not quite sure why I have such a bias against it, but I did sit down expecting to enjoy it, as I adore epistolary novels. I quite enjoyed the beginning of this novel. Julia is a delightful narrator, and the history of Guernsey was intriguing. Despite these strengths, I soon found myself bored because it was telegraphed from the beginning. There was no surprise or intrigue, and in this case the letters began to impede character development.
The romance was fine. I enjoy a bit of romance sprinkled in, but it was clear from the first letter this serendipitous friendship would become more. In some ways, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is exactly what people say it is: a charming and sweet historical tale. I wasn't charmed, although I would call it charming. Incidentally, I do think the film will be good (it's tentatively set to release in 2013, but is currently in development.) The writing wasn't weak, but I didn't find it to be strong either. I didn't write down a single passage, and I didn't find the voices of the wide variety of letter writers to be varied enough. I frequently found myself forgetting who was writing the letter and had to flip back to its beginning (it's a rare novel I'm glad I didn't read on my Kindle.)
Overall, I found it to be a rather ordinary novel. The peek into Guernsey was lovely, and I enjoyed Juliet. I wished the other characters were more developed, and perhaps in this case the epistolary format should have been abandoned in the second part (or at least interspersed).
The verdict: Remember earlier this year when Jill reviewed Major Pettigrew's Last Stand with two sentences: "If I had to describe this book in one word, I'd say cute. In fact, I think that's all I say." I was tempted to do so here, as it sums up this one quite nicely. If cute and gentle are your thing, then go for it. (Ironically, Jill loved this book, and most people (except Ti!) seem to agree.)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 290 pages
Publication date: July 29, 2008
As an affiliate, I receive a very, very small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!