Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
The Guernsey Literary and Potato
Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Random House, 2008
Reviewed by Judi Morrel
If you have never read an epistolary novel
(or even if you have), this charming tale is a wonderful place to
begin (or begin anew). Set just after the Second World War, the
story unfolds entirely and gracefully through a series of letters
written to or received by the protagonist, Juliet Ashton.
Juliet, a young London author who has established a reputation
by writing morale-boosting newspaper columns during the war, is
searching somewhat frantically for a topic for her next book.
Unexpectedly she receives an intriguing letter from one Dawsey
Adams, a farmer living on the English Channel island of Guernsey,
English territory occupied and fortified by the Germans during
World War II. It seems that Dawsey has come into possession of a
used book of Charles Lamb's essays with Juliet's name and address
inside as the previous owner.
Even though the German occupation is over, there are no
bookstores left on the island, and since he is quite taken with
Lamb's essays, he writes to ask how he might obtain another book of
them. In his letter, Dawsey refers to the Guernsey literary and
potato peel pie society. This brief reference, of course, peaks
Juliet's interest and in the letters that follow between her and
other residents of Guernsey a remarkable tale unfolds, a tale of
the redeeming power of literature and of human courage and
connection in the face of extreme duress.
- Judi Morrel is associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and associate professor of mathematics at Butler