“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a #1 New York Times bestseller. When I began reading it, I couldn’t decide if I liked it. The novel is written entirely in the form of letters between a journalist/author, her publisher, her best friend, members of the Society, and various others who get involved along the way. The backdrop was Guernsey Island, shortly after it was liberated from German occupation at the end of WWII. I wasn’t sold on the structure. My attention to detail gave me a headache. I noted the date on each letter and constantly flipped back to see how long it had been since the last correspondence with that character. Things got better when I quit doing that.
The curse of my generation is that I’m accustomed to instant rising action. Shaffer and Barrows took their time gradually and delicately developing the plot and each character in depth. Halfway through the book, I still didn’t know if I liked it or not. The reading was still a little slow going, but the story was interesting enough that I didn’t want to give up on it. I hardly ever start a book and don’t finish it. The last one I remember setting aside was Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” in the summer of 2008. A few hundred pages in, it was still no “Crime and Punishment.” I intend to give it another go someday. But I digress.
In the end, I quite enjoyed “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” Last night I picked it up to read for a while and didn’t stop until I had reached the end at 1:45 a.m. Part 2 was better than Part 1. I knew all the characters and things were happening. The love story that finally emerged was satisfying. The authors did a great job of giving just enough buildup that I wasn’t surprised, but I was quite pleased with the way things turned out.
Bestseller? Maybe. Worth reading? Definitely.