I couldn’t put “5 reasons I loved…” in the title anymore because the book title itself is a mouthful! I can’t remember whether the title put me off a bit when I first heard of it, or whether it drew me in. It’s been on my to-read list for about 8 years, and thankfully I managed to get my hands on a copy a few months ago. (Is it too cliche to say my life has never been the same?)
A brief synopsis: The war has just ended, and Juliet Ashton is a writer on the hunt for her next story. A surprise letter from a complete stranger draws her into the world of Guernsey, a small island that was occupied by German forces during the war. She learns about the mysterious Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society and its eccentric members. Interest piqued and heart captivated, she sets off for Guernsey to meet all her new pen-pals and hear their amazing stories firsthand.
Whatever reason I had for putting it on my list all those years ago was well justified. I loved this book to bits, and here are 5 reasons why:
The fortitude of post-war society
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I’m a sucker for World War II stories. There’s just something I find so fascinating about them. I feel all the sadness and pain that the war brought, but then there’s the redemption that comes after the war ends. Though this book is set after the war, the characters tell stories of their time during the war.
The life-changing magic of books
It surprised me that not all of the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society liked reading! But I liked that they were forced into this unusual situation where some of them were able to discover a genuine love for reading. I enjoyed reading about the different genres and authors each member was drawn to.
The joy of unlikely friendships
The only thing most of these people had in common was that they lived on Guernsey. They come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but they come together one night in defiance of German rule. Okay, that makes it sound much more subversive, but it wasn’t really. They broke some rules, got caught, and formed a book club as an alibi. In the end, they made real friendships that saw them through the occupation.
The charm of rural life
Basically it’s my dream to leave city life behind for a more laid back rural lifestyle. Juliet got to live out my fantasy by escaping post-war London, with its chaotic, debris strewn streets, for the picturesque island of Guernsey. I could clearly envision the cottage she stayed in thanks to watching numerous episodes of Escape to the Country. I just want to wake up, look out my window, and see rolling hills covered in grass and meadows with flowers.
The beauty of snail mail
I always feel that I sound better on paper than in person. I am never really comfortable talking to new people, but that changes when I am writing what I want to say. It gives me time to think, compose your answer, and give meaningful responses. With all the snail mail that was exchanged in this story, I just wanted to get myself a pen-pal immediately. Uh… any takers?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been my favorite read of the year so far. It’s one of those books that makes you feel alive and positive. It’s earned its spot, right next to The Book Thief, as a book that I would recommend to anyone.
Until the next read!