The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrowsguern
Publisher: Dial Press
Date: 2008
Genre: Historical Fiction, Epistolary Novels
ISBN: 9780385340991
Price: 22.00
Number of Pages: 274
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 5Q, 3P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://anniebarrows.com/grown-up-books/

http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/guernsey//book/#video

http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/406-guernsey-literary-and-potato-interview

Links to Reviews

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/31/AR2008073102685.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/fictionreviews/3559411/Review-The-Guernsey-Literary-and-Potato-Peel-Pie-Society-by-Mary-Ann-Shaffer.html

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/mary-ann-shaffer/the-guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-society/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-385-34099-1

Reader’s Annotation

Who could ever guess that a letter from a stranger could forever change a person’s life?

Summary

Guernsey is an epistolary novel that is set in the year following the end of World War II. It’s set in Great Britain, specifically the channel island known as Guernsey. As the story opens, we meet Juliet Ashton, a writer who has made a name of herself for the articles she’s written during the course of the war. She has recently compiled her articles into a book and is on a book tour. While on the lookout for a new story idea, she randomly gets a letter from a stranger named Dawsey Adams, who is a resident of Guernsey Island. He accidentally comes across one of her own books and the two strike up a friendship. She learns from Dawsey that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Juliet is fascinated by this group and discovers that it was created by accident during the Nazi occupation but that the group stuck with it anyway because they found that they liked discussing books. Dawsey puts Juliet in contact with the other members and she decides that she wants to write her next book about this group. In the second part of the book, she goes to visit the island, which she falls in love with. She begins writing her book and becomes especially interested in a woman named Elizabeth, who was taken away by the Nazis and hasn’t been seen since.

Critical Evaluation

I normally don’t like historical fiction, so I was really surprised to find that I really loved this book. Like Juliet, I too fell in love with Guernsey and its eccentric inhabitants. I thought all of the characters were richly drawn, some of which made laugh out loud several times. I also, however, enjoyed the serious side of the book, which tells the story of how these people survived the Nazi occupation. At times, it was heart-wrenching to hear what tragedies had befallen certain characters. Elizabeth’s story was especially tragic and easily became one of the most interesting characters in the book. What is fascinating about this is that we only hear about her story second-hand from the people who knew her. This book was the perfect mixture of both sadness and humor. At the end, the book just completely warmed my heart. I’m extremely glad that I decided to read this book.

Significance of Book

This book was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and has even won a couple of awards. The characters are pitch perfect and, even though it is sad, it is one of the most heartwarming stories I have ever read.

Read-alikes

La’s orchestra saves the world by Alexander McCall Smith

I’ll be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith

Awards and Lists

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Indies’ Choice Book Awards: Adult Fiction

Library Journal Best Books: 2008

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss the importance of reading in the novel
  • Discuss the character of Elizabeth McKenna and how she is heroine of novel without ever being present.
  • Discuss each character and their book choices and how it reflects their personalities.

Justification of Selection

This book has been recommended to me for years, but I always put it off because I don’t like historical fiction. When I started preparing for the database assignment, I realized that I needed to read some historical fiction, so I decided to try it out. One of the reasons I gave in is that I was intrigued by the epistolary format. I started it thinking that I could always choose another book if I hated it, but that moment never came. I liked it from the very first page and was completely in love with it by the end.

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The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kiddsecret
Publisher: Viking
Date: 2002
Genre: Coming-of-Age, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780670032372
Price: 24.95
Number of Pages: 301
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 4Q, 3P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://suemonkkidd.com/

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Talks-with-Sue-Monk-Kidd-About-The-Invention-of-Wings

http://bookpage.com/interviews/8506-sue-monk-kidd#.VMvtdmjF_T8

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/book-club-girl/2008/10/16/sue-monk-kidd-talks-about-the-secret-life-of-bees-book-and-film

Links to Reviews

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-670-89460-4

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sue-monk-kidd/the-secret-life-of-bees/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-life-of-bees-sue-monk-kidd/1100311171?ean=9780142001745

Reader’s Annotation

Lily Owens is done with it, her father, hometown, everything. So she busts her nanny out of jail and skips town on a journey to learn about her mother’s past.

Characters/Location

 Lily Owens

Rosaleen Daise

T-Ray Owens

August Boatwright

June Boatwright

May Boatwright

Zachery Taylor

South Carolina 1964

Summary

 This book takes place in South Carolina in 1964 during the chaos of the civil rights movement. The story centers around a 13-year-old named Lily Owens, who has lived with her abusive father ever since her mother died tragically when she was a small child. Lily has a very tumultuous relationship with her dad, with her only source of comfort being her African American nanny Rosaline. One day, Rosaline gets into an altercation with three racists in town and is beaten and arrested. Things are looking pretty grim for Rosaline, so Lily breaks her out of jail and the two run away. Lily’s secret mission is to find out more about her mother. Through a few of her mom’s items, she determines that she used to live in a town called Tiburon and is somehow connected to a woman named August Boatwright and her two sisters. August is a beekeeper and has a business called Black Madonna, where she sells honey. Lily visits her and August immediately takes her and Rosaline in. They work at the business for room and board. Lily grows close to the sisters but is afraid to divulge her true identity.

Critical Evaluation

I really enjoyed reading this book. I normally don’t like reading anything set in the 1960s, but I was immediately drawn to Lily as a character. Lily’s tragic past was very interesting, as was her struggle to understand more about her mother. The story serves as a fantastic coming-of-age story, as Lily’s growth is both realistic and interesting. I also thought the sisters were really good characters, especially August. Although at times she was a little too perfect, her relationship with Lily was the heart of the story to me. Lily’s guilt regarding her mother’s death was extremely sad. It was especially difficult to see her keep it from August when the reader knows that August could help with her inner turmoil. I saw the twist ending coming, but I do like the fact that that the book stuck to its guns. It didn’t sanitize the story. Nothing comes out perfect in the end.

Significance of Book

This book has earned some rave reviews and has made multiple lists for best books. It was published as an adult title but has YA appeal. It was even made into a movie starring Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah. It is a beautifully written novel coming-of age story about self-acceptance and forgiveness.

Read-alikes

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Wishing For Snow by Minrose Gwin

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Awards and Lists

 Indies’ Choice Book Awards: Paperback

School Library Journal’s Adult Books for High School Students: 2002

YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2003

YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound – Literature and Language Arts: 2009

YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: What Makes a Family? (2008)

Book Discussion Ideas

  • Discussion on T-Ray and Lily’s relationship
  • Discussion on the difficulty of forgiveness
  • Discussion into the Black Madonna and how it figures into story

Justification of Selection

 One of the reasons I decided to pick up this book for my database is that I wanted to read something that was set in the south during the 1960s. I don’t have much experience reading anything set during this time and I liked the fact that this had YA appeal. I was also interested in acceptance and feminine power.