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Old 01-01-2020, 08:58 AM
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Default 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' by Mary Ann Shaffer (Sa13+)


Welcome to The Book Seekers' Book of the Month for January 2020! Happy New Year! If you don't know what Book of the Month is, there's more information here but, in a nutshell, it is a monthly event during which we all read the same book and discuss it here. This discussion will be active until February 15th.

This month we're reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer!


Age Rating | Sa13+
Genre | Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads | "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Let's go over some ground rules...
  • All Book Club Rules and SnitchSeeker Board Rules apply in this forum.
  • You can discuss ANYTHING that is related to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in here. However, it must be kept SPOILER FREE until at least January 15th. You can include spoiler-y content as long as it is under a spoiler tag. Remember that other people might not be as far along in the book as you.
    • Any posts that contain spoilers (that aren't under spoiler tags) will be edited by a Book Club mod.
  • This discussion will be active until February 15th. That being said, the thread will remain open for everyone to discuss the book after that time, too.

There's more? There is! While we're reading and discussing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, there are other related things that you can get involved with.
  • Feeling inspired? Contribute some The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society fanart to our new Bookish Fan Art thread.
  • Submit The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society related posts to our Tumblr!

If you have issues or queries, contact Harron Peasley or natekka – and don't forget to nominate books for future Book of the Months!
Ready, Set, Read!
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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SPOILER!!: Don't think these are too spoilery but still
Oh man. Oh man. Oh man.
I started this book on the 30th of December.
I'm reading the audiobook :: I'm 5:17:00 out of 6:42:30.
So far I have laughed and cried and soared and felt heartache. Man. What a journey.
I love the format of letters.
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Old 01-01-2020, 02:47 PM   #3 (permalink)


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SPOILER!!: I don't want to spoil anything but just incase

I have literally started the book today and I wasn't sure about the book being just letters (I do not pick up new books easily btw so bare with me ) but this just makes me want to write letters to people now I need some pen pals or something because there really is something magical about writing and recieving letters
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Old 01-02-2020, 01:14 AM   #4 (permalink)

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I am so excited we're reading this book! I love it so much, and I'd love to have a watch party at the end of the month and watch the movie together on Netflix because it is extremely well done.

Ironically (coincidentally?), there was an article about this book in a back issue of my university alumni magazine that I found over the weekend. The author was an alumni at the same school that I went to, and I thought the article was really interesting. Mary Ann Shaffer visited Guernsey and was so taken by the place and their history during WWII, that this story just percolated in her for years and years. Her friends finally told her to WRITE IT DOWN or stop talking about it, so she did. EVERY SINGLE publishing house that Shaffer sent the story to accepted it. Sadly, she died before the book was finally published, and the co-author listed on the book was brought in to do the edits and re-writes necessary for publication.

TL;DR - we all have a story in us, and I hope you all get to share yours someday. Also this book is super.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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OH! I read this book recently! It's amazing! I can't wait to start discussions on it!

Ern I love the idea of doing a watch party!!!!! That would be so much fun! I have watched the movie on Netflix idk how many times now but I will watch it over and over because it is so well done!
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:51 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I started this book on the 30th of December and finished it yesterday. I loved it, easily one of the best stand alone (non-series) books I've read recently.

I have watched the first hour of the movie so I'll stop and watch it with everyone at the end of the month.
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Old 01-02-2020, 06:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I just checked the e-book out on my Libby app! I'm excited to read it, especially after reading this excellent backstory...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassirin View Post
I am so excited we're reading this book! I love it so much, and I'd love to have a watch party at the end of the month and watch the movie together on Netflix because it is extremely well done.

Ironically (coincidentally?), there was an article about this book in a back issue of my university alumni magazine that I found over the weekend. The author was an alumni at the same school that I went to, and I thought the article was really interesting. Mary Ann Shaffer visited Guernsey and was so taken by the place and their history during WWII, that this story just percolated in her for years and years. Her friends finally told her to WRITE IT DOWN or stop talking about it, so she did. EVERY SINGLE publishing house that Shaffer sent the story to accepted it. Sadly, she died before the book was finally published, and the co-author listed on the book was brought in to do the edits and re-writes necessary for publication.

TL;DR - we all have a story in us, and I hope you all get to share yours someday. Also this book is super.
Wow, Ern-la, even though your alma mater and my alma mater are sworn enemies, I believe, I love this story! I never knew this! That is true coincidence. I'm even more inspired now to start working on my lifelong dream of actually becoming a published author!

Also, I'm totally down for a watch party. I watched this once when it was new to Netflix, so I'm eager to see how it compares after I read the book. I know, I know, I can't believe I watched the movie before reading the book. It happens.


Update: I'm a third of the way into the novel and while I love letters, I'm just wondering if the entire book is epistolary?
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Old 01-03-2020, 06:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So... I started the audiobook yesterday during my commute to work. And I'm nearly at the halfway point. While it definitely has its charm and I find parts of it rather cute, I'm starting to get bored. And with it as highly rated as it is on goodreads, I feel like I'm missing something hmm. Maybe it will pick up?
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Old 01-03-2020, 06:58 PM   #9 (permalink)


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SPOILER!!: Just my opinion on the book without any spoilers
I have mixed feeling about it and I'm not really sure why I finished it last night and I did enjoy it but at the same time, something about it just left me wanting more and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Maybe when we can discuss what actually happened, I'll get down to the crux of why I'm feeling this way haha.
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Old 01-04-2020, 05:40 PM   #10 (permalink)

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It's my new years resolution to try and read more. Especially books that I wouldn't normally tend to pick out mysef, yk?? And historical fiction isn't something I'd usually go for so I was keen to give this a bash.

I started a couple of days ago but I just can't seem to get into it??? It's not the story, I think it's the style with the letters. I haven't got the best attention span and I keep finding myself having to track back to remind myself of who is who. I'm definitely eager to keep going though so we'll see!
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Old 01-04-2020, 05:57 PM   #11 (permalink)


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It's my new years resolution to try and read more. Especially books that I wouldn't normally tend to pick out mysef, yk?? And historical fiction isn't something I'd usually go for so I was keen to give this a bash.

I started a couple of days ago but I just can't seem to get into it??? It's not the story, I think it's the style with the letters. I haven't got the best attention span and I keep finding myself having to track back to remind myself of who is who. I'm definitely eager to keep going though so we'll see!
I was honestly exactly the same. I kind of persisted and did enjoy the book although I was left wanting a little.
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Old 01-04-2020, 07:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I think I might have felt like that if I'd read it... but as I had the audio book, the voices helped to distinguish who was who? And the emotion etc was palpable and audible.. but audiobooks are very much a new thing for me, so the fact I listened to the first half on a round trip to work etc... well, by the time the story progressed I was enamoured and definitely wanted to know what else was going to happen.
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Letter type stories are always hard for me to get into as well, but once it got further into the meat of the story it didn't feel like letters anymore. Just keep reading!
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Old 01-05-2020, 02:40 AM   #14 (permalink)

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I do remember that it was a little slow to warm up, but I appreciated the unique setting and I fell for the characters eventually. But my experience with the books we've read in book club so far has been that nothing will be universally liked. That's why we're reading such a variety of books and discussing with people who have a variety of interests!
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Old 01-05-2020, 06:30 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I can't wait to discuss this with you guys! I just finished it late last night/very early this morning. I'll post my Goodreads review below in a spoiler tag (though there's nothing very spoiler-y in it).

SPOILER!!: 5/5 Stars
This is a really lovely, sweet story. I adore the characters of Guernsey and I want them to be real. I wish I were Juliet, honestly. She's a fine heroine and an admirable author. The epistolary style takes a while to get used to, but it makes perfect sense for this novel and it's just experimental enough to give an otherwise predictable plot some teeth. I do enjoy the small twists and turns of the novel, but more than anything, I love the characters and their dry British wit. Their voices come through nicely in their letters and they give emotion to a 20th century story (WWII) most of us are already familiar with. Reading about Guernsey did make me long for the recent past when everyone seemed to be more literate and romantic; at least that's the impression I have from the perfect characters of this idyllic island. Is everyone too wonderful in this novel? I can't criticize the author; I liked the story too much and I wish she (like one of her key characters) had lived to see her creation's success. I highly recommend this novel to any anglophile, or someone who loves historical fiction (like Downton Abbey) or character-driven stories. It's an enjoyable read with wide appeal and is a smart choice for a book club.
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Old 01-05-2020, 08:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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AHHHHHH there's already so much hype and discussion, I love it!

I'm almost half way through myself and, I must say, I'm really enjoying it! It's not the most exciting story ever but it's so wholesome that I don't mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GD2204 View Post
[...] but this just makes me want to write letters to people now I need some pen pals or something because there really is something magical about writing and recieving letters.
I'll be your pen pal!!!!!!

#BookSeekersPenPalProject anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassirin View Post
I am so excited we're reading this book! I love it so much, and I'd love to have a watch party at the end of the month and watch the movie together on Netflix because it is extremely well done.

Ironically (coincidentally?), there was an article about this book in a back issue of my university alumni magazine that I found over the weekend. The author was an alumni at the same school that I went to, and I thought the article was really interesting. Mary Ann Shaffer visited Guernsey and was so taken by the place and their history during WWII, that this story just percolated in her for years and years. Her friends finally told her to WRITE IT DOWN or stop talking about it, so she did. EVERY SINGLE publishing house that Shaffer sent the story to accepted it. Sadly, she died before the book was finally published, and the co-author listed on the book was brought in to do the edits and re-writes necessary for publication.

TL;DR - we all have a story in us, and I hope you all get to share yours someday. Also this book is super.
I hadn't heard of the book until it was nominated for BotM. That backstory alone is fascinating!

@ everyone: I am 100% behind us having a watch party at the end of the month! We should organised a date and time (or multiple for those in different TZs) to watch it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emjay View Post
So... I started the audiobook yesterday during my commute to work. And I'm nearly at the halfway point. While it definitely has its charm and I find parts of it rather cute, I'm starting to get bored. And with it as highly rated as it is on goodreads, I feel like I'm missing something hmm. Maybe it will pick up?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterloo View Post
I started a couple of days ago but I just can't seem to get into it??? It's not the story, I think it's the style with the letters. I haven't got the best attention span and I keep finding myself having to track back to remind myself of who is who. I'm definitely eager to keep going though so we'll see!
I hope you both enjoy it as you get further into it. If not, it will still be fun to discuss!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassirin View Post
I do remember that it was a little slow to warm up, but I appreciated the unique setting and I fell for the characters eventually. But my experience with the books we've read in book club so far has been that nothing will be universally liked. That's why we're reading such a variety of books and discussing with people who have a variety of interests!
Excellent points!!! #RT
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Old 01-06-2020, 05:33 PM   #17 (permalink)




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I am loving this book. I actually got it as audio so I could listen while I'm getting miles in for my walking challenge. I don't know if that's why I fell in love with the story because of the different voices being used for the characters or if I just was drawn to the WWII material, but I think it is such a fun story. I just started it a few days ago so I haven't gotten too far in, but I'm already wanting to get back on the treadmill to listen to more.

BanabatGirl- Your goodreads review was amazing and I just adored reading it.

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[...] but this just makes me want to write letters to people now I need some pen pals or something because there really is something magical about writing and receiving letters.
This is something younger children are lacking and I wish we could change that. Getting mail is always so fun and my own kids don't get anything and when they do they get super excited. I wish they got more letters.

Cassirin- I am in for the watch party.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:24 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I just finished reading it!!!! What a wholesome book. I loved it, honestly!

SPOILER!!: some spoilery thoughts
Quote:
Originally Posted by GD2204 View Post
SPOILER!!: Just my opinion on the book without any spoilers
I have mixed feeling about it and I'm not really sure why I finished it last night and I did enjoy it but at the same time, something about it just left me wanting more and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Maybe when we can discuss what actually happened, I'll get down to the crux of why I'm feeling this way haha.
I kind of agree with you about the 'left wanting more' thing, though. Everything was tied up so quickly, I didn't even realise I was reading the last chapter while I was reading it! I wanted more. Another chapter or two about the wedding, the book she was writing, whether she adopted Kit in the end.

That being said, I LOVED the characters so much. Yes, most of them very, VERY nice, but I think that just added to the magic of the island and the book.


I can't wait until we can dive into the discussion properly!
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Old 01-07-2020, 05:40 PM   #19 (permalink)


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...I'll be your pen pal!!!!!!

#BookSeekersPenPalProject anyone?
We should 100% try and get a penpal page going! Writing letters is just dead but it shouldn't be!

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Originally Posted by Bazinga View Post
This is something younger children are lacking and I wish we could change that. Getting mail is always so fun and my own kids don't get anything and when they do they get super excited. I wish they got more letters.
I completely agree. It really is fun when you get to open a letter or get a postcard
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:06 PM   #20 (permalink)




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We should 100% try and get a penpal page going! Writing letters is just dead but it shouldn't be!



I completely agree. It really is fun when you get to open a letter or get a postcard
I think exchanging post cards would be do fun.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:19 PM   #21 (permalink)
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We should 100% try and get a penpal page going! Writing letters is just dead but it shouldn't be!

I completely agree. It really is fun when you get to open a letter or get a postcard
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Originally Posted by Bazinga View Post
I think exchanging post cards would be do fun.
I'm working on making this - or something like this - happen as we speak. Watch this space.

Last edited by natekka; 01-07-2020 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:04 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I would love to do a pen pall thing! It would be so much fun! Fair warning...I have terrible handwriting!


Roro: I loved your goodreads review! It's perfect and I wholeheartedly agree!

Natalie: If you haven't seen the movie, it wraps up nicely


I agree about the multiple time zones thing for the movie, that way people aren't having to get up super early or stay up super late!
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Old 01-11-2020, 12:28 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I hope everybody is enjoying reading this book!

'Cause I finished, I couldn't stop myself from watching the film (even if we are going to do a watch party towards the end of the month lol), and then I couldn't stop myself from making a grab bag! Who's surprised? Not me.

Anyway... HERE YOU GO. I hope you like them. Maybe wear one if you do.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:07 AM   #24 (permalink)




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EEEE I finally finished it last night! I agree with some of you that it was kind of slow to get in to - the letters format really threw me at first for some reason - but once I got about half way in to it, it really got going and I couldn't put it down! I loved how it ended, I didn't see the end coming at ALL TBH and I was super thrilled with it when I realized where it was going and I am SO DOWN for a movie watch of this!
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:38 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Hello, hello, hello! It's time to discuss The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society more, with any and ALL THE SPOILERS! So, if you haven't yet finished reading, you might want to avoid this thread until you have.

I want to start with a few simple questions:
  1. What were your favourite quotes from this book, if you had any?
  2. What did you think of the format, with the novel being composed entirely of letters? What do letters offer that no other form of writing (not even emails) can convey? (ty ReadingGroupGuides for this and future questions lol)
  3. And which of the members of the Society (or characters in general) was your favourite?
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