Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Correspondence from the German Occupation
Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Upon a strong recommendation and kind provision of the book, I started to embark on the reading of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. However I had a slow start. For some reason, I was deterred by its format consisting of letters or correspondence between the protagonist Juliet Ashton, and various other characters in and outside the Society. The format itself is a little distracting, and one does have to keep track of who is who.
After a dozen of the letters, which formed a preliminary character network, I began to grow fond of the book. My husband and I happened to watch Enemy at the door, a 1977 TV series on the German occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands in World War II. Typical stories and social issues then are again faithfully reflected in the book, such as Jerrybags, Todt slave/prisoner workers, curfew, food scarcity, etc. To keep such local flavor intact is one of the beauties of the book.
The book has also explored the single-minded thirst of the Society members to pursue rich knowledge and literature during the bleak time period of German occupation. Through Juliet's researching in London, the authors have cleverly introduced both the origin and history of Guernsey, and the formation of simple but unique characteristics of Guernsey islanders.
A final point about the book is that Mary Ann Shaffer, one of the two authors, worked in many professions, and one of them is being a librarian. She has succeeded in demystifying the myth that librarians only read and cannot write.