This week, I started and finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an epistolary novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Beautifully assembled and vividly expressed, this short fiction accomplished everything it should have: I wanted to live in Guernsey, I wanted to know the characters, and I wanted to be Juliet Ashton. While the novel articulates no real conflict, there is true sadness that lingers within the pages. Occurring on the very heels of the Second World War, Guernsey is a story about people who are working toward a better time, healing from the wounds of war and striving to overcome the burdens remaining in its aftermath. The characters find joy among the melancholy debris of their disrupted lives, taking pleasure in literature and companionship and the innocence of children. Guernsey is an optimistic community, each character uniquely molded and delightfully memorable. And Juliet Ashton, more specifically, is irresistibly magnetic and eloquently lighthearted.
I have a deep affection for novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, for those that refresh and enlighten, that glow with meaning and blush with spirit. Short though it is, I highly recommend this little novel for history lovers, literary souls, and those who might enjoy a subtle, elegantly worded story of friendship first, peace second, and love third. It’ll brighten your day, I promise.