Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Dear Reader,

I discovered a marvelous machine in the lockerroom that spins water out of your swimsuit. It's brilliant! It looks like an oversized salad spinner.

I also read a wonderful book called, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I know. I know. The title sounds like they threw a bunch of words in a salad spinner. This entire book is written in letter format! Inspired, I decided to write a letter to you about the book. The  goofy book name came about when a group of people on an island in the English Channel called, Guernsey, formed a club as a way to avoid jail time when they broke curfew during the Nazi occupation. I found the letter format discombobulating in the beginning. It was hard figuring out where the story was going. I didn't find the plot absorbing until page 40.

The story follows Juliet Ashton, a journalist and published author who wrote funny, light articles during World War II. Now that the war is over, Juliet wants to write a novel. She follows a story lead in Guernsey and along the way falls in and out of love, makes friends, and discovers the story she wants for a novel as residents describe the horrors and ways they survived during the Nazi occupation.

The letter format allows for many points of view and the minor characters come alive with unique voices and wit. For instance, Susan writes a funny letter to Juliet about her new assistant.

Dear Juliet,

You know Sidney does not keep your letters clasped next to his heart; he leaves them open on his desk for anyone to see, so of course I read them. I am writing to reassure you about Billie Bee's errand-running. Sidney doesn't ask her. She begs to perform any little service she can for him, or you, or "that dear child." She all but coos at him and I all but gag at her. She wears a little angora cap with a chin bow - the kind that Sonja Henie skates in. Need I say more?

Also contrary to what Sidney things, she isn't an angel straight from heaven, she's from an employment agency. Meant to be temporary, she has dug herself in - and is now indispensable and permanent. Can't you think of some living creature Kit would like to have from the Galapagos? Billie Bee would sail on the next tide for it - and be gone for months. Possibly forever, if some animal there would just eat her.

All my best to you and Kit,

Susan (p. 225)

I really liked how this book portrayed Juliet's struggle with finding and creating a story. I could also relate to the author in the Afterword, where Annie Barrows explains how "...Mary Ann could no more endure a day without reading than she could grow feathers..." (p.284).

Okay Reader. Back to the swimsuit salad spinner. Is there anything else miraculous in the swimworld in terms of swim caps? My current rubberized piece of comfort ripped out a chunk of bangs when I whipped it off and I had a burn line slashed across my forehead after swimming in the hot sun for a few hours. And don't get me started on the goggles! Those fogged-up, eyeball sucking plastic circles are like tentacles that latch onto my skin so tightly that after I am done swimming I have deep circular indentations hours later. Yes, they keep the water out, but is there something less torturous?

Your googly-eyed friend,


:-) :-) :-)  3.5 Smileys

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