Juliet Ashton has gained fame by writing a humorous column about World War II for a London newspaper, but now she wants to write a book with a more serious theme. As she searches for inspiration, she receives a letter from a total stranger, a man who lives on the island of Guernsey. He and Juliet begin exchanging letters, primarily about books, and their correspondence soon grows into a friendship. Through his letters, Juliet learns about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club that originated as a covert way to fight back against the German occupation of the island during World War II. She also starts receiving letters from several other inhabitants of Guernsey, who tell their own stories about life during the occupation. Soon Juliet has a book idea, a greater understanding of the war’s effect on Guernsey, and a group of friends who change her life.
I’d heard so much good buzz about this novel before reading it, and I have to say, it was all totally merited! The book is enthralling, warm, funny, and completely charming. I read it in a single evening and loved every minute. It’s an epistolary novel, and I found myself wishing I lived in a world where people still wrote letters to each other. I experienced a huge variety of emotions while reading the book, because the letters from Guernsey were so funny and so heartbreaking at the same time; I’d be chuckling at some silly anecdote, and then tears would come to my eyes when I read about the hardships experienced by the people of Guernsey during the war. I have only one quibble about the novel: in the romantic subplot, Juliet has to choose between several different men, and it’s not revealed until quite late in the book that one of the men is not a viable choice. That was a bit irritating to me, because I had thought he was seriously in the running! Hope that wasn’t too much of a spoiler.... At any rate, I absolutely adored this book! I might have to add it to the all-time favorites list!