Now this, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, feels like a summer book, doesn’t it?
Even though the ravages of WWII can be seen in Guernsey, London, and Australia, this book has a hopeful feel. First of all, I love the way the story is told through letters. I was recently toying with the idea of publishing a book compiled of the twenty years of newsletters I’ve written (not very seriously, but the thought did cross my mind). Have any of you read A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan? The chapter told through a powerpoint presentation was so clever, I almost couldn’t believe the way Egan pulled it off. I don’t remember the plot or the book, but I remember that chapter.
I think our lives are told in letters too. Between blogs, emails, texting, Facebook, and other forms of written communication, our stories are often shared in pieces and not clear narratives. I wonder when the first book told through Facebook posts will come out? Or at least a chapter in a book. Here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about when a story is told through letters (or the like), there is so much not included that requires piecing together.
How have you seen a cohesive story line to your story? Where are people making too many assumptions, or possibly wrong assumptions?
I love a line that evokes an actual out loud laugh from me. “Susan Scott said you took to the audience at the luncheon like a drunkard to rum.” Or “Yours in Christian Consternation and Concern, Adelaide Addison (Miss).” There is a willingness to laugh and not turn away from serious and devastating conditions. Though like Juliet there are times, “I know that I am fortunate to have any place at all to live in London, but I much prefer whining to counting my blessings.”
In her letter on 23rd January, I could relate to the tension of having gone without something (here, new clothes), that it felt too decadent to have it. What has been a struggle for you to have? What do to the locals in your context feel is a bit extravagant about your life (and you might agree or disagree)?
I sat up straight when I read in the 31st January letter about Elizabeth and Her German Garden since we’d read The Pastor’s Wife also by Elizabeth Von Arnim last February! Yay us. Yay literary societies. Of more substance in that letter was Dawsey’s sharing how much he didn’t understand or missed out on because of being cutoff for several years. I found this theme to strike a chord with us too. Where have you felt cutoff or that you might need a friend or family member to explain something to you to help understand better?
I loved how Juliet gave two references, one who would speak highly, and one who wouldn’t and the ways that each shared more of Juliet with us. What did you think of her ex-fiance packing up her books?
It was endearing to me how the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came into being and how a shared experience can be bonding. Watching the non-readers in their group begin to dip their toes into reading was fun. As Isola said, “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”
I’m taken with this cast of characters. Have you ever lived on an island? Again, I’m delightfully surprised how this book has so much to offer us in terms of themes we can relate to! What stood out to you as you read? See you in the comments :),
August 11: Roughly a third of the book (including the 27 March 1946 letter)
August 18: Roughly second third (including the 16 June 1946 letter)
August 25: Roughly the final third
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