Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Writing book reviews is mentally taxing, especially when one feels, as I often do, that words fail. How to perfectly capture the tone of someone else's work in your own words while also relaying just-enough-but-not-too-much plot, and, in this case, trying to convince every person I know to read it immediately? Even as I write, I waffle whether to even try, the alternative being to copy the entire back cover into this post, summary and book review quotes in full.

Ever since finishing Jeeves a month ago I've had trouble getting into a book. Tried a few but the timing just wasn't right for me and them to make it happen. One afternoon I finally sat down and gave myself 15 minutes to browse categories, lists, and reviews on Amazon to find a suitable read, one that would fit my mood just right. I wanted easy but not fluffy. I wanted deep but not depressing. I wanted humorous but substantial. Reviews of Guernsey gave me high hopes so I took the leap.

Aaaah, the leap! Could hardly put it down - I wanted to savor but couldn't help rushing through. Charming is too cliche but what says it better?

"Traditional without seeming stale, and romantic without being naive...It's tempting to throw around terms like 'gem' when reading a book like this. It's as charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love." - San Fransisco Chronicle Book Review

All I usually need are fabulous characters, gifted writing and a great ending - maddeningly hard to find altogether, so when I do I make a big deal about it.

"The characters step from the past radiant with eccentricity and kindly humor. The writing, with its delicately offbeat, self-deprecating stylishness, is exquisitely turned." - The Guardian (UK)

And ok, the obligatory summary, totally copied because it's so well put:

January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton (love her!) receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

My only sadness is there is no sequel. What on earth shall I read next? Maybe I should look into Charles Lamb...


Sharlie Kaltenbach said...

Hi Kari, I love your blog and check it often. I am thrilled you are doing so well! Your family is adorable! I LOVED this book as well, my mom read it and went right out and bought a copy for all her girls. I'd been in a reading slump and this book definitely ignited my passion! If you are looking for another good read, I would recommend Leif Enger's new book. I am in the middle of it now but it is another captivating and touching read. There is a link to an excerpt on my last blog post. Say hi to Ed for us! Love, Sharlie

Disco Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Disco Mom said...

Sharlie - affirmation! Thank you! Yes, this is my new give-it-to-everyone gift book, and thank you for the recommendation. I LOVED "Peace Like a River" but haven't read anything else by Enger. I'll look for it.

Lindsay said...

EVERYONE I know has been recommending this book. After a phone conversation with my mom over its wonderful qualities, it got bumped to the top of my to-read list. I'm half-way through right now and loving every bit of it. I can't wait to see how it ends.

If you need other recommendations, I've recently rediscovered Alexander McCall Smith. I read his "Portuguese Irregular Verbs" series a few years ago (FABULOUS!), and am now hooked on the "Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" and "44 Scotland Street" series. Both are great, easy reads, though I will say that the latter took a little longer for me to get into (in the end, though, I was nearly rolling on the floor laughing. Smith's humor is so delightfully subtle, I love it!)

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