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A Good Summer Read

I just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s about a journalist named Juliet Ashton who spent much of WWII writing for a British newspaper, a cheery, light-hearted column designed to help the English people keep up their spirits. The war has just ended and some of her columns have been gathered and published in a book that’s selling so well that her publisher has asked here for more. But Juliet is weary of war, and bombed out buildings, and want and rationing, and feeling older than her 32 years, and so begs her publisher to allow her to write on some other topic. The publisher agrees to give her several months to come up with another book idea. In the meanwhile she’s accepted an assignment to write a three part series for the London Times literature section about the philosophical, moral, and practical value of reading.

Out of the blue, Juliet receives a letter from a farmer from Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, saying that has a book titled "Selected Works of Charles Lamb" that he bought second hand, which has her name and address were inscribed inside. He writes further, that as there is no longer a book store on Guernsey, might she be able to help him find a book seller in London who might have more books by Mr. Lamb? He’d like to read them and share them with his friends in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Juliet writes back saying that she is happy to help, but in the meanwhile, her journalist’s curiosity is peaked, and as she is working on a piece about reading, she wonders if he can tell her more about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Soon, Juliet is corresponding with a whole group of Guernsey folks and the amazing story of their lives during the German occupation unfolds. Through this series of correspondence, Juliet ends up not only finding the topic for her book, the experience is life changing for her. This is a story of hardship, courage, and humanity and how easily life can turn down a completely unexpected path.

This fictional tale is told entirely through a series of letters, and makes for delightful summer reading. Enjoy!

posted by Jeanne

Category: Staff Reads