Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I fell in love with this month's read while I was traveling in Europe.  After a very busy week, I was ordered to sit and watch the world go by, armed only with a view of the Irish coast, and the delights of this book.  In a letter to my friends at home, I described it as deliciously engaging and refreshing.  Needless to say, it was immediately put it on the Paige Turner's "To Be Read" list. 

And after our meeting on Monday, I can happily report that the other members enjoyed it as much as I did.  *whew!*  In fact, several ladies said it was one of their favorites from all the books we've read together as a group.  High praise indeed!

Getting everyone together this month was no small feat.  We had to cancel our original meeting because of Snowmageddon.  And with so much snow remaining on the side streets, we were worried about having enough extra space to park in our normal neighborhood location.  Enter our solution: invade Panera Bread.  It was our first non-livingroom gathering, but I think it worked rather well.  I'd definitely be open to meeting at an eatery again.

In any case, on to the book!  We talked about what it was like to read an epistolary novel.  We thought that the authors -- Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows -- did a wonderful job of capturing so many different voices.  We talked about the characters, the ones we loved and the ones we loved to hate.  I thought it was interesting that one of our members commented that she didn't feel very connected to the main character, Juliet.  We talked about how that might have been because most of the letters are from her (sharing about others), or to her (again, sharing about others).  There were very few letters that gave an outside glimpse of Juliet, sharing anecdotes, etc. 

We talked about the different stories shared through the books letters - what life was like, how the war impacted people from both side, how the experiences of the war changed those who lived through them, and impacted those who came after.  For example, could you imagine having to decide in one day between sending your child away to live in a foreign country or choosing keep them close knowing the invading army is on it's way?  What would you do?  How would you handle it?  

We hope that this novel will survive it's current popularity and become a modern classic.  It's smart, funny, clever, and warm and still finds a way to share important bits of the WWII era throughout the book. 

Let's hope for warmer weather and clearer roads in March.  Our next book continues the WWII theme.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

P.S. - If you'd like to read what the Storie Delle Sorelle book club thought of the Potato Peel Pie Society, click here.