Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This book has been on my to-be-read list for a while now. Everyone's talking about it, as you probably know. When a friend lent to it me in July, I thought it would be towards the top of the pile, but there were other books I had to read, and I devoted some personal time to Harry Potter last month.

When Melissa suggested that we use it for a 5 Minutes for Books bookclub, I thought that was a great idea, and would insure that I actually gave this little book some time. The official bookclub post was put up on Tuesday (feel free to click over and give your thoughts in the comments or link up your own review).

But I've just finished, so here we are. In a word, I did enjoy it. When I first started, I wasn't sure that I would enjoy the book of letters format. But within the first 20 pages, I was already delighted by Sophie and Juliet and Sidney.

I was quite sure that I was really enjoying the book when a piece of news was shared about one of the characters that took me offguard and made me feel more than I had thought I would. The same thing happened once again when I was suprised with a detail about one of the characters that the author had held back until this point, leading us all astray. The device of using the letters to tell the story allowed this type of withholding to occur and to let us truly discover things about the characters as the other did.

Right at the end of the book, instead of only reading letters as we have the whole time, the author puts in a few pages of Isola's notebook. I did not like this at first, but the story she unraveled was lovely and a perfectly acceptable "real-time" way to introduce it in context.

This is an oft-quoted book, and here are just a few of the nuggests I wrote down in my reader's notebook:

"I would never make fun of anyone who loved to read" (page 39).

"I sometimes think I prefer suitors in books rather than right in front of me. How awful, backward, cowardly, and mentally warped that will be if it turns out to be true" (page 121).

"Not being silent myself, I am wildly curious about people who are" (page 231).

And I noticed that they are all written by Juliet, so I suppose she's my favorite character -- the one with whom I can most identify.

So if you've been lolling around like me -- staying off the bandwagon -- I heartily recommend that you give The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a try.

If you have read it and love it and want to see what others love about it too, see what they had to say at our Bookclub post.


Kipi said...

I know what you mean about those unexpected things that popped up.

My favorite quote was also from one of Juliet's letters:

"I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with."

I also liked this one from Isola:

"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."

I'm sure I'll be reading this one again someday. So glad 5M4B used it for the book club!

Heather J. said...

Thanks for checking out my interview with the author - I loved getting the opportunity to talk to her. This was a wonderful book, and I've been recommending it to people left and right - I've even got my 85-yr-old Gram reading it now!

Amy said...

I wasn't too sure I'd like the format, either, but it worked in this case. Great review, Jennifer!

Carrie said...

But I would probably still make fun of someone even if they did like to read. =)

Fun reading your thoughts and hearing your favorite quotes. Even if you DID only end up giving it a 4. That's still a pretty high mark!

morninglight mama said...

I was actually quite proud of myself for foreseeing all the 'surprises!' :) I really, really adored this book, and I'm glad that Melissa gave me the motivation to finally read it!

Suko said...

I,too, loved this book! Terrific review!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Great review. I really liked this one too, and ended up loving the letters format, though it certainly wouldn't work for every book.

KyleeJ said...

I won this recently. I hope to work it into my reading schedule soon after it arrives. =)