Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

The epistolary format of this novel was a little unfamiliar, but I think it's actually useful because in this format you are more aware of how limited your perspective is, both by what the narrator is seeing and by what he or she is actually choosing to pass on. The post-war setting also seemed tired and over-explored at first, but I hadn't actually read anything about the occupation of the Channel Islands before. 

I found this book unexpectedly charming, and the format did contribute to that since Juliet's writing voice was similar to Anne Shirley's (of Green Gables). If she spoke like that in a conventionally narrated novel in the third person, it would be too precious and off-putting, but it worked just fine for old-timey correspondence. 

This book also gave some perspectives I hadn't considered: the children sent off to safety (only encountered previously in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), the prostitutes/camp followers, the Todt workers. And the slightly more familiar perspectives were also unexpected - the villagers all had that small town/island background I never could resist, but this time talking more about literature, which was unexpectedly lovely, particularly for Clovis Fossey and his letter about poetry.

I loved this book (just can't figure out how to shorten the title), for the new points of view and for the history lessons I did not expect, and for bringing out so much sympathy both in the characters and in me. 

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Maira Gall