I think it’s possible that 90% of American women have read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (from here out I’m only calling it Guernsey) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. And that’s because it combines beautifully told history with a really sweet story. It was Ms. Shaffer’s book, but she became ill before she could finish it, so her niece, Ms. Barrows, finished it for her. It was published after Ms. Shaffer’s death.
The story follows a young woman in London after the end of World War II. She receives a letter from a man living on the island of Guernsey. Thus begins a correspondence and relationship between the woman and several inhabitants of that island.
I have read this book twice now - both times for a book club. I didn’t love it the first time. I loved everything about the history told in the book and the characters, but I hated the letters format. Guernsey may talk about real events and real experiences, but they aren’t real letters. Which seriously put me off the first time I read it. However, the second time, it didn’t bother me nearly as much, and I was able to enjoy the story. I think that is mainly thanks to 84, Charing Cross Road. I didn’t mind the letters there because they were real. They were real letters written by real people to other real people. Through that experience, I was able to fully enjoy Guernsey.
Now, some of you may have heard about or even seen the Netflix version of this book. It is not a proper substitute for the book. It has the same general plot, but the story is immensely different. In the book, the writers let history be the drama. World War II was dramatic enough for any story. In the movie, history is traded for fabricated drama. I was almost excited to watch the movie with my husband because, if they’d done it right, he would have really enjoyed it. He loves history, and he especially loves World War II. Unfortunately, it was done poorly, and he thought it was “meh.”
This book isn’t for everyone (it’s definitely not for children). Like, I said, it took some getting used to for me. However. If you enjoy history, and you enjoy romance, give this book a try.