The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
ISBN: 9780385340991 Global Overview for this book
17 journalers for this copy...
Along the way we learn about life on Guernsey during the German occupation and get a glimpse of the beauty of the island and its people. Written almost entirely in the form of correspondence between the characters, this story also highlights the power of the lost art of letter writing as a medium of communication. A wonderful little book that shows the power of the human spirit to shine through even the most difficult of circumstances.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Let's see: This book is about books and booklovers, AND it is about World War II, AND it is about Guernsey...
I know exactly who this book needs to visit next, so I'm off the the post office to ship it down under. Enjoy, my friend!
Countries this book has visited:
Visited Countries Map from TravelBlog
U.S. States this book as visited:
Visited US States Map from TravelBlog
A parcel has just arrived in the mail from one of my BookCrossing friends on the other side of the world from my Canberra home. He calls himself ResQgeek as a nom-de-web, and he lives in Alexandria, Virginia. He's sent me a copy of a book he knows I'll like. Just a gift, free and clear, out of the blue. A happy surprise for me, checking the morning mail and the monthly gloom from the bank.
BookCrossing is the act of leaving a book in a public place for a stranger to find, who then does likewise. It's an odd notion, but one that works through a computer numbering system to bind the world up in links of random generosity and books. And an expanding network of friends who share the lunacy.
Such wonderful people I've met through BookCrossing. I share their books, I share their blogs and web forum entries and sometimes I share their lives. Meeting one of my online friends is a special joy. Here is the person, warm and living and smiling, who has previously just been letters and words and pixels on a computer screen. We feel as if we know each other already.
I first met ResQgeek - he's an emergency rescue worker, hence the screen name - on my first big overseas trip in 2005. I'd never been further than New Zealand before, and New Zealand for an Australian is like crossing a state border where they have a different accent, but here I was in Dulles airport in Washington DC, where my Australian summer of t-shirt and shorts had been suddenly switched to a cold winter with snow in the air, heavy coats and gloves. It was like walking into a freezer. I had been processed by dozens of impersonal airline, security, customs and immigration officials over the past twenty-four hours, told where to stand, where to sit, what to eat. I'd had very little sleep and I was highly excited and bewildered, struggling to process the new experiences in this strange foreign land, where everything was different.
And here was ResQgeek, waiting at the baggage carousel, watching my big yellow BookCrossing.com tote bag go around and around to see who would step up to claim it. I almost hugged him, I was so glad to see a friendly face. He told me where to go, where to sit - I was sitting in the driver's seat of a car, except they'd moved the steering wheel across to the other side - and then overloaded me even further by giving me a tour of all the famous Washington landmarks, floodlit and grand in the frozen night. I loved him for his kindness and generosity to a bewildered traveller.
We swapped more books then and in the following years, met each other again a couple of times on different continents, and I'm always charmed to read online of his life and his home and his family. We'll catch up again, I'm sure, and have another book-related adventure together.
I open the parcel and here's the book: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society". My heart beats extra fast, and though it's a cold Canberra winter, with snow on the hills, it's a sudden summer glow for me. I love Guernsey.
Guernsey is an island in the Channel, tucked away closer to Normandy than England. Just a tiny place, one small town, a few villages, and farmhouses sprinkled over the green land between. Cliffs in the south and shingle beaches in the north. Ridiculously bosky and a postcard view at every corner.
There was a flurry on the forum one evening. Tune into BBC Radio Guernsey on the internet radio and they'll be talking about BookCrossing. So around the world we went to the website, opened up the streaming radio player, and listened as a leading British BookCrosser was interviewed by Jenny Kendall-Tobias, who presented a local talk show. She had a happy on-air personality, and one of those voices with a smile in it, and she grew ever more enthusiastic as she learnt about BookCrossing and the strange and wonderful journeys of some of the books registered on the site. Around the world we listened, and we sent her emails, and she read them out, astonished to find her talkback show on island life a sudden focus of global attention.
I was charmed, and kept listening even after the interview was over. She couldn't stop talking about BookCrossing, and quizzed following studio guests about their books, where they might leave them if they joined BookCrossing and wasn't it a great idea?
I tuned in the next night, and the next and soon I was happily absorbed in Guernsey life, this ancient community where the laws are written in a variant of French, and the head of state is the Duke of Normandy, in the guise of the Queen, descendant of William the Conqueror.
I exchanged emails during the shows with Jenny. She found some of the things I had to say amusing, and she read them out on air. I'd laugh at her jokes and look up things on the web, learning about the island and its history, the language, the culture, the occupation by the Germans in WW2, the local cooking.
ResQgeek in Washington also tuned in. In his early morning and my late evening, we'd listen to Jenny's show, two men enthralled by a tall blonde with a smile in her voice.
So, I guess that when I visited Paris and London, it was a foregone conclusion that I'd travel via Guernsey. You cannot believe how broad my smile was when I tuned the radio in my Normandy hire car to BBC Radio Guernsey and could listen in real life. I took the ferry from St Malo, arrived in St Peter Port late in the evening, and the next morning I was at the studio, where I met Jenny, a few minutes before her show.
I didn't hold back. I hugged her. Hard. She was kind enough to take me into the studio with her, and I was interviewed, and then sat in as a special guest as she talked to local lawyers, dance competition winners, a visiting archaeologist and took calls from around the island. And around the world, because ResQgeek and a few other BookCrossing friends were tuned in, sending emails.
And then she showed me around. We visited government offices, the old centre of town where the Romans had lived, scenic lookouts, narrow twisting roads up to a village high over the bay, France a smudge on the eastern horizon. We had a late lunch and then she sat me down in the town concert hall while she ran through a dress rehearsal of "Singin' in the Rain", where she played dual roles of a showgirl and a radio journalist.
I hugged her again when she dropped me off at my hotel, and as I waited in the tiny air terminal the next morning, I resolved to return.
Which I did earlier this year, my wife and I spending a marvellous few days exploring the island, cliff-top walks, the old Castle guarding the harbour, the ugly grey cement fortifications built by the Germans on every headland, the cobblestoned streets, the restaurants. I bought a genuine fisherman's guernsey, a heavy blue oiled wool pullover that is now my constant overgarment in cold weather.
And I sighed in mixed satisfaction and sadness as our ferry pulled away and the cottages on the hillside faded into the distance.
I've had many adventures in my BookCrossing life, and I've met any number of wonderful people, but there is a special place in my heart for ResQgeek in Washington, and Jenny in Guernsey. Very different people and places, but I love them both.
So it was a thrill for me to find a book about Guernsey, sent by ResQgeek. Money can't buy the happiness I felt on opening the package. Just glancing at the blurb on the back cover, and opening pages at random, I'm sure I'll love it. It's a story of a secret society during the German Occupation. Plotting against the Nazis, the locals disguised their activities by meeting to discuss books and local cooking.
I can't wait to begin. So, for the next few days, I'll be the guy with a goofy grin, greedily reading of an enchanted island, and dreaming of the times I've had and the people I've met.
My bank card might have been scraped empty, and maybe I'll find Potato Peel Pie all I can afford, but in the things that really matter, I'm a millionaire.
"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."
I'm also grateful for learning more about this lovely little place and its people. It might not be a tropical island with golden beaches, but it is utterly charming. St Peter Port with its houses, shops halls and churches climbing the hill above the harbour where the daily ferry has to turn about outside the entrance and back cautiously in. The countryside with its farms and lanes, the sea never far away. The cliffs with their gorse and seabirds, wooden benches at the best bits. And the great grey German fortifications at every turn.
I've visited that sweet little chapel made of broken pottery. And the vast, dank underground hospital, where proclamations, identity cards and newspapers from the war years are displayed.
It must have been a dreadful time, with the starvation in this sweet land. The forced labour as the slaveworkers threw up the foolish emplacements and dug out these great useless holes. The hospital was used for a day for a few of the wounded from D-Day, and then they were brought back out into the fresh air. That was it.
All that suffering for nothing.
The book balances heaven and hell, the good Germans and the evil. And the different views of the Guernsey folk. And their approaches to literature.
I cannot help but make a comparison with that other wonderful book of letters, 84 Charing Cross Road. This one is set around the same time, but moves quicker. And of course, setting aside, it's fictional. But they'll make a movie of this - no doubt about it. The actors had best stop eating now, if they want to look the part.
I'm letting Kerri read this, and then it's up for grabs. No wild releasing.
For the months preceding the convention we held in Wellington,Sherlockfan had been talking and talking (I'm surprised my ear is still attached!) about how amazing Skyring was, and after that wonderful weekend (woooo alliteration!) I totally agreed, there are few people I hold so highly in my esteem as Skyring.
So thank you Pete, not just for the book, but for the fantastic memories, and all the smiles you've given me. Truly appreciated.
I'm adding this to Mt.TBR but I don't think it'll take long to get to the top!
Hope you enjoy the smile! Cos I sure did :D
I'm starting a ray for this cos there are about 3 people I want to send this too, will pm the people who have it on their wishlist (only about 20 or so!) and see if anyone is interested.
Here's who its going to:
Ruby11 (AKL, NZ)
Rarsberry (Chch, NZ)
MarcieNZ (Chch, NZ)
TheLetterB (Dunedin, NZ)
Seethroughfaith (Finland, EU)
Qantaqa (Germany, EU)
Risa29 (Luxembourg, EU)
Nell-Lu (Edinburgh, Scotland)
JoolsW (West Yorkshire, England)
CITIBELLE (Hereford, England)
MissMarkey (Oxfordshire, England)
AnglersRest (Devon, England)
Vekiki (London, England)
Jozebedee (Cheshire, England)
KiwiinEngland (Dublin, Ireland)
CynthiaA (Ontario, Canada)
Pooker3 (Winnipeg, Canada)
NMReader (New Mexico, USA)
Sarradee (Texas, USA)
Purrabella (Florida, USA)
Hopi100 (Virginia, USA)
Carenhf (New Jersey, USA)
Krl112 (New Jersey, USA)
ComradeCamper (slowish reader; close to end, Wisconsin, USA)
Lobodyke (Kentucky, USA)
WingedMan (last, Kentucky, USA)
I'm going to say its closed to any new people, unless WingedMan decides to continue it on, mostly cos its taken me AGES trying to figure out where to put you all!
Once you get the book, please journal it, then journal it again when you have done, and send it on to the next person. If it is going to take longer than 3 weeks to read, please make a journal entry so we know it hasn't been lost! But most of all, ENJOY!
And I will send it tomorrow :-)
I notice this book's heading to New Jersey - that's something! Is there a New Guernsey anywhere?
Lol!! I did a search on google maps and it didn't find anything!!
And I PROMISE I am sending this tomorrow, keep having issues with internet not working at home to retrive the address from my email/running late/forgetting to do it the night before, but I've written a note on my hand now, and WILL remember!!
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Sent to the first participant, Ruby11. Should be there in 1-3 working days.
Did you know that the next World Convention is going to be held right here in Christchurch, New Zealand in April 2009! We would love to welcome you along :D Check out our website!
Please help us get Moem from the Netherlands to New Zealand to promote the Dutch Convention. Check out our website
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Posted to rarsberry today (1/10/08).
Thank you ruby11 for the book and the goodie. I put it in the freezer as its a warm day here and its a bit soft. :o)
I will start this book after I finish my current read.
It was good to read the book as letters written, though as times I would need to check who was writting and whom it was to, I pretty much ignored the dates.
Glad that she was able to find what made her happy in life.
So sad to hear the stories of what happened to people during and after the war.
Will get the address of the next person on the list and will send it on its way soon.
I'm looking forward to reading it, mainly because I have had a penfriend in Guernsey since 1972. Lately our correspondence is mostly an annual exchange of scenic calendars.
I'll send it on to TheLetterB for her to find on her return home from the West Island.
MarcieNZ was praising this book at last night's meetup, so I managed to convince her to let me hijack it for a bit on its way to Dunedin. Promise I'll read it quickly and send it on its way as soon as possible!
I didn't even know Guernsey had been occupied, so for a start I learnt something by reading it, but it was really the characters that caught my attention - so incredibly real, and brought to life so well through their letters. And so incredibly believable, too - it wasn't until about half way through the book when one of them used a turn of phrase that sounded a little out of place that I checked the authors' bio on the back cover, and realised the book was written by Americans. I'm impressed. For an American author to convincingly write British characters is a rare thing (just as rare as the reverse :-)).
Definitely one of the better books I've read this year.
P.S. See, told you I'd read it quickly :-)
I have to now visit Guernsey as it sounds so beautiful and roll on 2009 when hopefully my plans will enable me to be living in the UK.
The characters in the book were so real and believable. I enjoyed the book so much that I will forgive the authors for the couple of times that I noticed American spelling of words. This is something that usually grates on me and I frequently avoid authors who do this.
I was pleased to read the review that had been tucked in the pages, but sad to read that the author is now deceased, as I was hoping to find something else she had written.
I'll be PMing Wombles for her address and hope to get the book in the mail before it gets caught up in the house-packing maelstrom.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Sending on to Wombles today.
Arrived today,I've been so looking forward to this book.
(BTW I hated 84 Charing cross rd, I couldn't even finish reading it I hated it that much)
I've always really enjoyed epistolary novels.
I had to look up exactly where Guernsey is, though I've read many things about it from Skyring, I didn't really have a clue where it was.
I actually have an idea that I've read another book about Guernsey before but I don't know what it was.
I will contact seethroughfaith and mail it on asap.
This novel was an intriguing portrayal - in snippets - of life in Guernsey before, during and after the German occupation in WW 2. What I loved most about it was the real sense of humour that the book carried - you could almost see Juliet's curly hair bouncing on every page!
I was a little shocked to read that the authors were from Northern California - because the book doesn't have an American taste. Shaffer and Barrows really captured a European feel - thank goodness! I think the spelling was even British English (though I'd have to go check to be sure!) ... whatever :) this is a great book. Highly recommend it to anyone really.
If this weren't a bookring I'd know who to give it to next. As it is I think I'll buy her a copy of it for her birthday :)
I've contacted the next in line for her address so this should skip over to Germany in the next few days.
Thanks for organising this ring. It was a pleasure to take part! The map and cutting at the back added extra interest too. Thanks!
This is definitely the best bookish quote I've come across in a while
"I wonder how the book got [here]? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."
Thanks so much for offering this as a ring! The book is already on its way to Risa29.
I loved the book. Although the stories of the German occupation and the war are sad, terrible and making me sick, the book itself is charming and despite the stories an enjoyable read.
It makes me sad to think that the author Mary Ann Shaffner only wrote this one novel (She died in February 2008). I would have liked to read more.
On the down side, I was very disappointed that there is a non-letters section near the end; I was enjoying the epistolary form. I found some of the characterisation weak (and some patronising). The language felt wrong in a few places, for example where Scots phrases were used by Channel islanders. The, very pleasing, epistolary form brings with it some problems; mainly, the need to tell one's correspondent things they already know, for the sake of the reader. I found the plot a little pedestrian.
So, the critical side of me insists that this isn't great literature. But, the relaxed side wins by pointing out that it is a great read!
I have JoolsW's address and will send this out tomorrow. Thanks again, everyone, for sharing.
Having read all the subsequent journal entries I'm fairly certain I won't be disappointed : )
Thanks for posting the book so promptly to me Nell-Lu : )
Thanks for organising this ray, ((DL))
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
CITIBELLE has asked to be skipped as she has already read the book, so it's now on its way to MissMarkey.
Enjoy : )
I loved this book. It was a refreshing read on what could have been a very depressing and heavy subject, and I think that it is easy to forget that Jersey was occupied during WWII.
Just about to PM the next reader and hopefully will be off in the post on Thursday.