This is a novel everyone should read – mothers and daughters, girlfriends, and bookgroups. One of the best books of the year, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows perform splendid fiction writing, the likes of which are hard to find. Only one issue: You have to remember the title and don’t put a “Sweet” before the “Potato” and be sure to spell “potato” correctly.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Dial Press, 2008) has several wonderful qualities which make this a great read. One, the format is unique: written in the form of letters to and from each character. Two, the story is beyond heartwarming. Three, the setting takes place after WWII in London and the Channel Islands. Four, part love story, part overcoming past standards and traditions, the strong willed and very likable lead character will steal your heart. Juliet is a superbly crafted character, whose story we can all relate to, both historically and and through present day.

Novels like this are a true gem and delight to read. There should be more like this. Filled with literary and historical references, well researched and well written, the authors prove their mettle and their credentials. Mary Ann Shaffer worked as an editor and a librarian and has the talent to effortlessly blend her craft of writing with her intelligence of history and literary greats. Annie Barrows is a children’s author (Ivy and Bean series). These masterful storytellers have created a marvelous novel and I hope they do more.

The letter format is partly what drew me in. Who isn’t curious and inquisitive enough to make reading someone else’s letters a secret pleasure? That’s the fun of this novel. Beyond that though, reading this letter format creates a more personal environment. A deeper sense of feeling and emotion, as relating to particular situations, are really illustrated through a letter. It’s this level of personal attachment to the characters and the story that make this such a delightful read. It’s witty, smart, comical, down-to-earth, and creative.

Plus, the description of post-WWII London and the aftermath that affected the entire world, are demonstrated through the characters tied to the story and ultimately tied to Juliet, the lead character who is a writer and discovers the Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, which was overtaken by the Germans who occupied the Islands throughout the War. The novel deftly blends in the realities of the war, as shared as memories in the lettters as well as through Juliet’s visit to the Islands. Even though the Islands were ravaged during the occupation (trees were all cut down to be used as fuel and firewood, people were thin and sickly, some died, crops and animals were severely reduced or killed off, and Island residents were deported to concentration camps), the post war recovery ultimately triumphs with a little time. The people of the Island who learned to come together through books and reading (the Society part of the novel’s name), really impart a sense of community, one that is rare in most urban parts of the world. These relationships and the recovery are beautifully illustrated in this wonderful novel. Please read it, you’ll thank yourself for reading such a heartwarming tale.