Reading Good Books Ruins You for Reading Bad Ones...
Jun 2, 2010
Pros: Literary; entertaining; excellent character development; not formulaic; exquisite audio rendition.
Cons: Irreverent and immoral in places; unrealistic ending; pacing concerns; similar styles among characters.
The Bottom Line: Reading this book will help you discuss both tragedy and whimsy using a British accent--unless you already have one. In that case, this work may prove disappointingly inaccurate.
I had a chance to look at the garbage one more time before it was picked up this morning. In it were some rotten eggs, a history report that I hope even the landfills see only once, and a bunch of cookie cutters. I think the Generic Epinions Review Mold was among these, but I'm not quite sure. Prior to seeing it out the door, I had already bent it until it was nearly unrecognizable.
Since I am no longer in possession of uniformity, I thought I would see what else I had to offer. On a closet shelf, I found an engraved box entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. A peek at the bottom of the chest revealed a label declaring the designers to be Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Inside were letters, telegrams, pure moments-of joy and laughter, tragedy and dismay.
And because blandness has fled from me today, I should like to introduce you to this book-this proverbial box of treasures-using the views of those who might critique Shaffer's work. True, these originated in my imagination, but perhaps they will give you an entertaining idea of what you might expect. Enjoy!
What Y'All Should Know, Readers,
I contribute to Wikipedia and I just want to let you know what you can expect from reading this book. It is entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This is an epistolary novel, which means that it is written entirely in letter format.
The story follows Juliet Ashton, a journalist and published author who attempted to raise morale during World War II by composing slightly humorous articles about food rationing and blackout curtains. Now that the war is over, however, Juliet is in search of a deeper subject. No longer does she wish to be considered the light, fluffy, trivial journalist who only makes her readers laugh. Her lightsome book tour is dull, her contractor is exerting too much pressure, and she is convinced that she will never find romance-not after the disaster involving her controlling former fiancé.
Presently, Juliet is thrown into the midst of others' lives. Dawsey Adams, a resident of the island of Guernsey, writes to inquire about Juliet's relationship with literature-particularly concerning a book by Charles Lamb. Through Dorsey, Juliet forges a relationship with many of Guernsey's inhabitants. Of special interest to the journalistic, romantic Miss Ashton is the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Formed as a means by which to avoid curfew during the Nazi occupation, the society ultimately began to focus on the books that truly held meaning for their readers. Isola, a unique and vivacious woman who firmly believes in phrenology, is enthralled by Jane Austin. Others enjoy Shakespeare and W. H. Auden.
Meanwhile, Juliet is experiencing turmoil from Marcum V. Reynolds, an American businessman who hopes to win Juliet's heart through extravagant gifts. Despite her friends' warnings, Juliet finds herself intrigued by this exuberant man.
Juliet's dreams of finding an enriching subject for her next work are fulfilled when she travels to Guernsey. Although the magnificent landscape renders research challenging, she makes a valiant effort at interviewing the local residents. Each person has a different story to tell-of the children sent away to London during the war, of concentration camp survivors, of those who survived with very little protein for several years, and even of a German soldier. Where do these experiences intersect? What of the romances in Juliet's own life? And what of the prying Adelaide Addison, who seems intent on destroying any happiness that may be found on the island? Will Juliet's book be a success? Will her relationships with a precious child and a reticent yet literary man reach a satisfactory conclusion?
On Wikipedia, the plot could be revealed further. On Epinions, it cannot. I hope you have enjoyed the information I have offered.
Ida A. Wiki
Mes Chères Connoisseurs de la Litérature,
Neither Shakespeare nor Chaucer is the best developers of tantalizing, intellectual composition. Those who pen epistolary novels are superior to all writers save allegorists.
That said, each letter and telegram offers a unique perspective on the characters' perceptions. Particularly charming, of course, are Juliet's letters. If I could convey fragrance and futility, contentment and cliffside views as well as she, I would truly consider myself a writer. As it is, I am forced to observe as others accomplish what I am incapable of.
Characterization is rich and detailed. With the exception of one Ms. Addison, all Guernsey residents-including Juliet-are round and dynamic. I do believe that Juliet Adams is merely an alias for Mary Ann Shaffer, so realistically is she drawn.
True to daily existence, the story follows several angles: the German invasion, the resulting shortages, love and hope in the lives of parents and children, a passion for literature, Juliet's book tour, her romantic entanglements-all are provided in this comprehensive work. This is not a mystery or a direct love story. Although the predictability element is present, the plot is far more than a simple formula. It is meadows and mistakes, Lamb and loyalty.
Other reviewers have noted that syntax remains relatively uniform among characters. Each letter maintains similar punctuation and wording. I failed to notice this trend, primarily as I was enveloped by the audio edition of this work. The multi-voiced, unabridged version made all characters quite clear. Juliet's prim London accent, Dawsey's less polished diction, and even a young boy's shy speech are all captured in perfect detail.
However I found that the ending was unrealistic because it contained romance and crisis and hope and change and relocation and ladders and love and children and attics and ribbons and rush and...
A catastrophe! I did not tolerate this in Uncle Tom's Cabin; I refuse to endure it here. Implausible, twisting, spiraling endings are for Danielle Steele to write-not for our dear Ms. Mary Ann.
I oughtn't to read other views of this work before forming my own, but I did. Tragic, isn't it, that I can't develop an opinion? Many historians have criticized this work for being inaccurate. Hmm. Did post-War London feature bomb shelters, weak tea due to food rationing, tiny flats, and disheveled citizens? Indeed. Does the story surmount any minuscule flaws? Most certainly. Should these historians abandon sense for a moment? As surely as I neglected grammar in an earlier paragraph.
Truly, if you value either love or living, you must read this work-if only to find out what treasures reside in a child's battered, cardboard box. You want to know, but that query will forever lurk within if you fail to purchase this work. Wouldn't that be horrid?
Beth E. Lilina
I have read this book in the hopes of putting away the unedifying and holding fast to the good. I find it regrettable to cite the ill-spoken words of one of the characters, but I truly do feel it my Christian duty to remark upon the more questionable elements in this work.
First, allow me to say that the authors illustrate hope, courage, and joy in ways that I have seldom seen. I don't read fiction ordinarily, but this is certainly among the best fictional pieces I have encountered in years.
Nevertheless, I fear I must remark upon the character of Miss Adelaide Addison. A nosy, self-righteous, complacent woman, Miss Addison is the authors' sole attempt at portraying a Christian figure. Adelaide continually parades about town, judging all with whom she comes into contact and spurning those who refuse to acknowledge her supremacy. Her other actions include frightening young children into believing that their parents are dying, writing angry letters, and proclaiming farmers and fishermen beneath her.
Evidently, Miss Addison is not an accurate portrait of Christianity. She expresses no joy in her faith, professes no true devotion to God, and certainly avoids the commandment to love one another. Her character is insulting and unnecessary. Readers should be aware that she is not a credible Christian and should judge this work and its characters accordingly.
Please also note that the mixing of potions, cohabitation before marriage, and homosexuality are all touched upon. Protest if you wish, but readers can only make an informed decision if they have all possible information. Do with it what you will. Meanwhile, I have a coffee date with Miss Lelina and Ms. Wiki.
As our society becomes increasingly health, money, and writing conscious, I realize that disclaimers are in order. No, I did not appropriate or plagiarize my content. Yes, this did all originate from the mind of Bethesda Lily. No, you shan't receive bonus points for returning my Generic Review mold to me in perfect condition.
Is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society right for you? Probably, if you meet the following conditions:
I. You are a woman; a man with a sentimental core; or a strong, masculine figure in search of something besides roses and chocolates for his wife.
II. You are not sensitive to liberal ideas and character development.
I fear I do not meet the latter qualification, so I think I'll dance off to an obscure church service, where Rev. Viewer and I can discuss the detriments of Miss Addison's character. I shall plaster this envelope with three stars, cautiously recommend the book to others, and hope that they enjoy the pleasant elements while shattering the questionable.
I leave you with this: "Reading good books ruins you for reading bad ones." -Isola, eccentric member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I had heard people talking about this book ever since it was published--countless people I know had read it and loved it--so I bought it; but then I found myself passing it by on my TBR (to be read) shelf time and time again because I wasn't sure it was my cup of tea (as it turns out, I misunderstood what the book was about from the descriptions I was given). Then I met a new friend and neighbor and she kept at me about it, saying I must read it. FINALLY, after close to two years gathering dust … more
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer is a charming epistolary novel (for those of you who forgot your high school English terms, that means that the book is a series of letters) but perhaps too charming. In the novel, a young, unmarried British writer named Juliet has found success with a series of newspaper columns during WWII. Now (in 1946) the columns are compiled as a book and she's even more successful. As she searches for a new topic to tackle, … more
Okay, that’s definitely a long title. It’s also a perfect title for a perfectly entertaining, intriguing and informative love story, world war II drama, and mystery with a twist. The twist is that the story’s told entirely in letters between the characters. The wonder is it works so perfectly. A writer looking for a book idea after wartime success finds herself accidentally corresponding with people who’ve lived through the German occupation … more
When my mother recommended this book to me, I took a look at the cover quotes and found myself immediately skeptical. Phrases like "New York Times Bestseller" and a recommendation from the author of "Eat Pray Love" don't always lend themselves as a marker of a mindful read. However, after giving it a chance I was pleasantly surprised. This novel explores the experiences of a collection of characters in both Guernsey and England and their coping mechanisms … more
I admit; this was a hard book to get into. It is written in a series of letters between the main character (Juliette, if I remember right), and her publisher Sydney, plus many others, most of whom are members of a literary society that was formed by an unlikely group of people thrown together by events during WWII, on the Channel Island of Guernsey. This book has it all: romance, suspense, humor, horror. Once I got used to the manner of writing, I loved reading how each character … more
Poverty and suffering are AWESOME, apparently. I threw the book into the wall when the author used the word "random" to mean "unexpected," in her faux-period letters, a meaning that emerged in the computer age. I give this book a big fat *fart sound*.
The year is 1946, and British writer Juliet is feeling restless. She wants to write something new but doesn't know what. As luck would have it, she receives a letter from a Guernsey man and a pen-friendship develops. He tells her about the island literary society and its unusual history, and before she knows it she is corresponding with all the members and planning to visit them in person. Written entirely as a series of letters between Juliet and her friends, this book … more
I picked this up on a whim and can say that there are not enough words to describe how wonderful this book really is. This is definitnely one of the best books I've read this year. Set in England and the Channel island of Guernsey immediately following World War II, we meet Juliet Ashton (our protagonist and writer) who suddenly receives a letter from Dawsey Adams (Guernsey dweller) requesting some information on author, Charles Lamb. Thus begins a correspondence that leads … more