The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Slipping in right under the dead line – I pinky swore with Alita from Alita.Reads that we would both read this book in September.  She totally smoked me…. but I am done with the book and here is my review.  Thanks Alita – what a blast!  😀

The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation.   Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life.

An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic “documents” such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use. The word epistolary comes from the Latin word epistola, meaning a letter.

Click to see Alita's review

I know I know… I could have written my own synopsis… but honestly… I am tired and my brain is fuzzy and words to describe this delightful book are totally escaping me so if I would have written the synopsis it would have been one word:


Uniquely written, this book is made up entirely of letters.  Yes!  Letters!  Correspondence back and forth, fun and witty and informative – letter by letter we piece this story together… the remarkable start of The Potato Peel Pie Society and the books they enjoyed!  I love books – about books!

Pride and Prejudice

Wuthering Heights

Past and Present

The Cantebury Tales

The Pickwick Papers

Selected Essays Of Elia

The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen

Letters of Seneca

Selections from Shakespeare

I have enjoyed a few books centered around war this past year and have to say this is the best one I have read.  As I mentioned earlier, books about books is really a soft sell for me…. I just love to rad about other book lovers.  They fascinate me!  I loved reading about other people in the “Society” and how the book club developed.  I group that started out as a “cover story” that became rea… did I mention that I love that?

I know I am gushing and repeating myself and doing all sorts of things that when I read this review tomorrow I will roll my eyes – but honestly I have to get this out there – read this book!  Warm and welcoming characters that will invite themselves into your heart.

This would make a wonderful book club read!

I wanted to include a recipe for Potato Peel Pie… I did not have the time to make this as I had hoped to… however if I ever get my book club to read this I think I will have to put in the effort:

  • 2 cups raw, grated potato skins (I added some of the white part to keep the texture somewhat tender), use mashed potatoes for filling
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • beetroot
  • sour cream (optional)
  • chives (optional)
  • butter (optional)
  • garlic (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a small pie plate. Mix grated potato peels with egg, onion and flour. Press the mixture into the pie plate and up the sides to form a crust. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes. While the crust is baking, cook potatoes, drain and mash. You can add your favorite mashed potato flavorings here i.e. garlic, onion, milk, butter, salt, etc. Fill crust with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with beetroot. Bake in oven at lower temperature of 375 for 10 minutes or until browned.
  • I received this book for review

    52 Comments on “The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

    1. What is your favorite book about BOOKS? I think that one of the reasons I love Tam Lin by Pamela Dean so much is all it literature references. The other is that it is steeped in myth and legend. Every time I read Tam Lin, I pick out some other title they mentioned to read next. My favorite discover this way was a play… “The Lady’s Not for Burning”

      • I will have to think about that Amcatoir…. great question! I have not read Tam Lin… hmmm….. 😀

        I can think of TV shows that I love with all the book references: LOST and Gilmore Girls.

    2. Yay! I’m glad you lived up to your promise, and I’m glad you enjoyed this book! It’s definitely a great one. So warm and cozy — which seems strange to say about a book shaped so much by war, but so it was to me.

    3. This was one of my favourite reads a couple of years ago. Loved it!

      I am not sure if I would want to try making the pie though!

    4. Woo Hoo! Finally Sheila you have read this book! You know, it’s been nominated 2 or 3 times already and hasn’t got in, maybe the next time’s a charm. I LOVED this book and I’m glad you did too!

      • I agree Angie – it would be fun to bring it up at Bookies again. It sat on my shelf for so long – it took the push of a dare (or a swear in this case) to get me moving.

        So glad I did! 😀

      • Jill when my book club meets at someones home we try to potluck around the theme of the book we are reading. This one would be interesting, I am thinking war time foods… really kind of puts you there.

    5. I actually re-read this last week and my review will be appearing some time later on Friday – it’s definitely a great book for book-loving people! 🙂
      So glad you enjoyed it Sheila

      • Oh my gosh Reagan you said that and I just realized that is two weeks from today! GAH!

        Things are coming together though – watch for my morning meandering today and squuuuuueeeee with me 😀

    6. I really enjoyed this book too! I had no idea about any sort of role the Channel Islands played in WWII. Have you ever looked up 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff? It’s a true, epistlary novel from that time period and was quite good.

    7. I so loved this book-M. George wrote a book about a murder in Guernsey that I want to read. I did not know their history before reading this book.

      • Esme I did not know the history either! I should have said something about that in my review (I knew I was going to pick this one apart!) 😀

    8. I’ve been on the lookout for this simply because of the wonderful title. However, I do enjoy WWII era stories so I’m looking forward to reading it.

    9. When I first started this book last year, I thought it would be annoying and tedious to read this kind of format. But it didn’t take long for me to be totally caught up in the stories and the characters, who became real through their letters.

      That pie looks good, too, Sheila!

      • Laurel I felt the same way. As I was picking up what the book was about I was wondering if I would find a fit for me in this book. It happened so fast I didnt even mention it in my review because it just picks you up and carries you along.

    10. I’m glad you got to read the book… Love the pinky swear photo’s LOL…

      I think I’m gonna try the recipe too… sounds interesting.

      Oh yeah… I’m gonna read the book too LOL..

      Great review!

      • The pinky swear was a blast and it got us both to read a book that had been waiting for us for too long! 😀

      • Oh good Alyce – I was tired so I was worried that I was just not going to make sense with this one or do it justice…. had to get that review in – there was a pinky swear involved! 😛

    11. After finishing this book, I just wanted to be friends with the wonderful characters. I think delightful is a perfect word to describe this one.

    12. Wel I’m definitely going to get this book now! I’m off to London on Monday, so I may get it there if I spot it… Put it this way, the last time I went to London I bought 4 books just from the railway station!

    13. It is equal parts charming and horrifying as you think about what it would be like to be living under enemy rule.

    14. Woohoo, just in the nick of time! “Delightful” is a perfect descriptor for Guernsey – it was one of the few books that as soon as I read the last page, I wanted to open to the first one again.

      Thanks for suggesting the pinky swear, I’m so glad that I *finally* read this book. And Yay for both of us actually reading it during September. High Five!

    15. WOOHOO !! I’m so glad you got to read it ! I really enjoyed this book. The writing style was unique and I enjoyed the humor so much 😀

      • Thanks Lori – you were right to bring it up for book club…. it would make an excellent discussion book!

    16. I am so glad that you enjoyed this. It was one of my favorite books that I read last year. I love reading books about books too. I am hopeful that this will be made into a movie someday. It is sad that Mary Ann Shaffer passed away. I think she would have written many more wonderful books.

      Fantastic review and thanks for including the potato peel pie recipe. I don’t think I’m brave enough to attempt it!

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    18. I so loved this book!
      Such a feel good novel but it shouldn’t be given the subject matter.
      Living in the UK I never realised that Guernsey was occupied in WW2 until I read this novel.

      Such a sad story of the author too. I would love to have seen more from Mary Ann Schaffer. Such a pity she waited so long to write her first novel and so sad that she is not here to see the sucess of her novel.


      • Carol I love it when we pick up facts from our fiction – I love to learn something from each book I read.

    19. This was going to be the next book the book club I was starting at the library was to read. I think the book club folded. One of the members had read it already and really liked it. It is on my ever growing To Read List.

      • Thats too bad about the book club folding Pat. They are a great thing and I would have missed out on many a great read and a great discussion if not for my book club.

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