Classic review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - orphansofwar.infoMary Ann Shaffer's first and only novel opens in London in , and could scarcely, it seems, be more English. Yet its author was an American, a bibliophile from West Virginia who died earlier this year. She is at home with both the idiom of her characters and the epistolary form of her novel. It is sad to think that this is her sole published work. She had been encouraged to write by members of her book club and, in her late sixties, took the plunge. Having visited Guernsey in , Shaffer became fascinated by the wartime occupation of the Channel Islands, and during the course of her research - woven unobtrusively into the the book - she heard tales of terrible cruelty and great courage.
Classic review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I always keep my ears open for new costume dramas coming out and add them to my To Watch list. It was lovely. It was sweet. It was funny, devastating and full of heart. It desperately made me wish I could write a book even half as good.
T he zany title of Mary Ann Shaffer's first and, alas, last novel derives from an invented book club on the island of Guernsey in the second world war. The club is invented by the resourceful character Elizabeth McKenna, who, bumping into a German patrol after curfew with a crowd of revellers, makes the society up on the spot. In reality, the tipsy party had been consuming forbidden roast pig at Amelia Maugery's. This is less a historical novel than a bibliophilic jeu d'esprit by an ex-librarian and bookseller, posthumously published, and completed by her niece Annie Barrows. A novel in letters about books, bibliophiles, publishers, authors and readers, it centres on an imagined post-occupation Guernsey. Juliet Ashton, the whimsical, intuitive heroine, is an up-and-coming writer. While casting about for a new subject, she hears from a Guernsey pig farmer, Adam Dawsey, who has found Juliet's name and address in a second-hand copy of Charles Lamb's essays.
The book is set in and is an epistolary novel , composed of letters written from one character to another. In January , year-old Juliet Ashton embarks on a cross-country tour across England to promote her latest book. Written under her pen-name Izzy Bickerstaff , the book is a compilation of comedic columns she wrote about life during World War II. Despite the fact that she was initially contracted to write another Izzy Bickerstaff book, Juliet writes to her publisher that she wants to retire the pseudonym. On her tour Juliet is greeted with flowers everywhere from the mysterious Markham V. Reynolds, Jr. Her best friend and publisher, Sidney, warns Juliet that Mark is a wealthy American trying to establish a publishing empire and looking to poach her.
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December 12, Reading them, writing them, selling them, binding them — we are not picky. The debut novel by the late Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is written as a series of letters that tells the history of a small group of Channel Islanders during five years of Nazi occupation. Treated as an alibi, the society actually began life as a pig roast. Islanders were no longer allowed meat, but a local woman managed to hide a pig from the German soldiers and invited her neighbors to share. Caught out after curfew, one of the conspirators claimed that they were a book club who had been so engrossed that they lost track of time. The ruse worked.