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A successful WWII columnist, Juliet Ashton, has just published a collection of her popular wartime columns. But now she’s looking to write a “meatier” book, she just can’t find a topic she wants to live with throughout years of research. Then she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a native of Guernsey. He shares with her that her copy of Charles Lamb’s book, The Selected Essays of Elia, helped him throughout the Nazi occupation of his island and asks her to help him find more of Lamb’s writing. A correspondence begins between Juliet and Dawsey, and ultimately the other members of his book club.
The characters in this book were wonderful. I was in love with all of them. They weren’t all book lovers when the war started, but by the end, they had experienced how books can make the unbearable a little more bearable. The letter format lets you know the characters more intimately.
I think that, other than the characters, what made this book really click with me was that it was obviously written by a book lover for book lovers. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”
“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”
“It was amazing to me then, and still is, that so many people who wander into bookshops don’t really know what they’re after–they only want to look around and hope to see a book that will strike their fancy. And then, being bright enough not to trust the publisher’s blurb, they will ask the book clerk the three questions: (1) What is it about? (2) Have you read it? (3) Was it any good?”
“Because there is nothing I would rather do than rummage through bookshops, I went at once to Hastings & Sons Bookshop upon receiving your letter. I have gone to them for years, always finding the one book I wanted – and then three more I hadn’t known I wanted.”
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
Who here […] can’t relate to these quotes? Who can’t relate to the way that the characters discover what a light books can be in your own personal darkness? I recommend this one to book lovers everywhere.
Reviewed January 5, 2009
Read an excerpt.
Buy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society at
Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.