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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb... As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives.

I got quite sick this last week and wasn't able to do much except for lying in bed. It happens that this exciting activity pairs pretty well with audiobooks. So I set on searching for an available audiobook on Libby1 and stumbled on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I had already read the book a few years ago and remembered loving it. As I was practically in a dying state, it seemed like it would have just the kind of wholesome vibe I needed. Plus, I was curious about how an audio version of this epistolary novel would fare. So I closed my eyes and pressed on play (or more likely the other way around).

And what an adventure! I wholeheartedly recommend listening to the Penguin Random House edition of the audiobook. The voice actors are able to give life to the many characters in such a natural way, it is hard to believe that it is only a five-people cast.

There is something about this novel and these characters that just made me want to start over, as soon as I had finished it. Listening to it feels like sitting in a cozy armchair with a cat on your laps, drinking hot chocolate out of your favorite heavy ceramic mug with jazz music in the background.2

In short, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society made me feel like I was part of a quirky, loving and caring community. And isn't that what everyone is looking for in the end?

Footnotes

  1. Libby is a great library app, if you have the chance to try it!

  2. Is this example too me-specific? This must be a universal feeling, no?