Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (with video)

Since I got my Nook, I've been voraciously scanning CLEVNET's emedia site for reading material. I came across "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (Random House Reader's Circle Deluxe Reading Group Edition) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows on a top-read list, so I put my name on the waiting list and had my usual giddy reaction when I got an email notifying me I could check it out.

The historical fiction is told through letters among the main characters. That's all. No dialogue, no additional text -- just letters. I had come across this before (in "The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters" by Elisabeth Robinson), so I adjusted to the format fairly quickly. The story is set in London shortly after World War II. Writer Juliet Ashton begins corresponding with members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and decides she has to go to the island.

This is where the book should get interesting, but I didn't find it that way. The letters continue, and the story becomes kind of predictable. I guess I just wasn't interested enough in the characters to care about what happened.

Part of what drew me to selecting this book was the time period in which it took place. But the really sad stories of the war came too late. I had already lost my investment in the story when I learned of the really awful things some of the characters went through.

The "deluxe" part of the book is the annotations throughout. Instead of having footnotes, like in a traditional book, the ebook links text to annotations in the back. Below, a video of me demonstrating how the annotations work (or watch here):

I didn't use the annotations much. Maybe I would have enjoyed the story more than I did if I had read through all of that background information to add context to the characters' situations. But I felt like the lengthy notes took away the momentum of the letters.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Anonymous Tricia Ambrose said...


I thought the letters worked when it came to the events of the war but found the love story not-so-interesting. Read my take here:

January 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM 

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