#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A NETFLIX FILM • A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
“Treat yourself to this book, please—I can’t recommend it highly enough.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.
Praise for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
“A jewel . . . Poignant and keenly observed, Guernsey is a small masterpiece about love, war, and the immeasurable sustenance to be found in good books and good friends.”—People
“A book-lover’s delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to all things literary.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“A sparkling epistolary novel radiating wit, lightly worn erudition and written with great assurance and aplomb.”—The Sunday Times (London)
“Cooked perfectly à point: subtle and elegant in flavour, yet emotionally satisfying to the finish.”—The Times (London)
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
When war complicates everything, something as basic as a love of books can bring people together. Set during World War II on the German-occupied Channel Island of Guernsey, this charming story is told through letters exchanged between a young author and a community of disparate readers trying to rebuild their lives. Adapted into an achingly tender film, this humorous and harrowing novel was written by librarian and bookseller Mary Ann Shaffer and posthumously finished by her niece, Annie Barrows. Shaffer’s reverence for both reading and writing is evident on every page.
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume "Izzy Bickerstaff") writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate and not-so-articulate neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life as will readers.
Why did it have to end! I want to live with these people as my dear friends forever. I don’t know what took me so long to read this book. I think, initially, it was the way it’s written through letters but I quickly adored it. Such a pleasure to read.
I have never read a book without learning something, and this one has a whole lot of something to learn! I had never heard about the German occupation of Guernsey & I expected the island to be closer to England, than to France. I was also surprised to thoroughly enjoy a book comprised entirely of letters (the correspondence kind). The characters were wonderful, and the story-their stories-evoke every emotion! I loved it!
This book takes one on the journey into the lives and loves of the Guernsey Islanders. It feels like secretly reading a stranger’s diary.