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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is something of a literary phenomenon, and I admit to having delayed reading it because I'm often disappointed by such books. However, after receiving an email from a respected acquaintance telling me how much she enjoyed this epistolary novel I decided, with some trepidation, to jump in. I'm glad I did. While not without its flaws, this is a beguiling book!The central character is Juliet Ashton, a writer looking for an idea for her next book, who receives a letter from a Guernsey Islander named Dawsey Adams. Dawsey has come into possession of a book by Charles Lamb once owned by Ms. Ashton (her name is in written in the flyleaf). Mr. Adams would like to know if Ms. Ashton can recommend any other books by Mr. Lamb for the book club in the title. I had some reservations that a famous British author in 1946 would bother to write back to an unknown chap from Guernsey, still, suspending disbelief, it was at this point I thought I just might like this book. There's nothing a bibliophile such as myself likes more than a book about books, particularly if it's about books I admire, and oh, but I do admire the essays of Charles Lamb.Intrigued by the cheeky name of the reading group mentioned in Mr. Adams' letter, Ms. Ashton writes back, and so begins a correspondence between the book-loving group of Channel Islanders, and Ms. Ashton. (Again - I suspend disbelief -- the set up seemed a tad too modern, to me, but I chose to view it through the lens of Helene Hanff's excellent 84, Charing Cross Road.) As letters arrive from one quirky islander after another, a portrait of the people and their history during the Nazi occupation emerges, including how the name of the society began as an alibi for a forbidden pig roast. Caught abroad after curfew, Elizabeth, one of the diners, tells the German soldiers they were part of a book group who were so engrossed in their discussion they lost track of time. Rather shockingly, it works.Valiant, quick-thinking Elizabeth is, in fact, the heart of the book although, she is never actually appears -- her story becomes the central tension and mystery of the plot. And if some of it felt contrived, even a bit saccharine at times - including the downright saintliness of the German soldier with whom she has an affair, well, it could be overlooked in favor of the overall charm. I felt, in fact, that Elizabeth's story, had it been the entire focus of the book, would have sufficed.TO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW, PLEASE GO TO: In Praise of BooksThank you.