by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This book was passed onto me by a work colleague who couldn’t recommend it to me enough. And almost immediately I could see why.
Even without the recommendation, the title alone would have attracted me to this poignant and touching story about life in German occupied Guernsey. Told through a series of letters between a young writer, Juliet Ashton, and members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The book follows the highs and lows of life on the islands during the Second World War.
The book opens in 1946 with Juliet seeking inspiration for her second novel. When she stumbles across the Literary society shew soon finds herself on a ferry to Guernsey to find out more. Still suffering from the ravages of the war, the people of the island take her as one of their own and Juliet’s life begins to change forever.
The use of letters to tell the story makes it much more intimate than a normal narrative would have been. You get a much better understanding of each of the characters and how the two strands of the story impact on all their lives.
For Juliet, the islanders provide not just the inspiration for her own book, but also a new direction for her life.
Populated with beautifully portrayed characters, this is an inspiring, touching and compelling take. I found myself totally captivated by the members and their stories.
What really comes across is the author’s fascination with Guernsey, but what is not so obvious is that she was American. Mary Ann Shaffer wrote the book after prompting from her local book club, but due to ill health, asked her niece, Annie Barrows to help her finish the book.
It’s a totally captivating book. What a shame it was Mary Ann’s only novel.