I love to be pleasantly surprised. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was nothing like I thought it would be. I truly expected another dark, dreary book about World War II with maybe a little romance thrown in. In reality, there’s more than a little romance and this novel was anything but dark and deary. It’s a story of relationships and their growth among a group of people who, without being occupied by enemy forces, would probably not have much to do with each other. Instead, in order to survive the German occupation of Guernsey, the residents band together and form literary society that it so much more. The group is formed by happenstance rather than plan by Elizabeth, a young woman whose own romance in the novel ends up tragically. She is ultimately replaced after the war by Juliet, a writer, who comes to Guernsey after the war to write a book about the literary society. It’s a wonderful story and if you haven’t read it, I don’t want to spoil the ending.
The story is told through letters, telegrams and journal entries between the characters. The point-of-view changes frequently but it only adds to the pace of the novel. The characters do not lose their sense of humor, nor their cunning, in the war. We find out exactly what the characters are thinking and that makes them real. I listened to an unabridged performance by multiple actors which enhanced the book, if that’s possible. Usually when I listen, I’m not that interested in obtaining a hard copy of the book. But this is one, I’d like to actually read now that I have the voices in my head. It’s a great book.