Mary Ann Shaffer, who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.
Her niece, Annie Barrows, is the author of the children's series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half. She lives in northern California.
In January 1946, London is beginning to recover from World War II, and Juliet Ashton is looking for a subject for her next book. She spent the war years writing a column for the Times until her own dear flat became a victim of a German bomb. While sifting through the rubble and reconstructing her life, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island occupied by the Germans. He'd found her name on the flyleaf of a book by Charles Lamb and was writing to ask if she knew of any other books by the author. So begins a correspondence that draws Juliet into the community of Guernsey and the members of the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Named to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, the society shares their unique love of literature and life with a newfound friend. Seeing this as the subject of her next book, Juliet sails to Guernsey--a voyage that will change her life. Reminiscent of Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road, this is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word. This marvelous debut novel, sure to have book club appeal, is highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/08.]--Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume "Izzy Bickerstaff") writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate--and not-so-articulate--neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident--including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation--and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life--as will readers. (Aug.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"I can't remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and
delightful as this one, a world so vivid that I kept forgetting
this was a work of fiction populated with characters so utterly
wonderful that I kept forgetting they weren't my actual friends and
neighbors. Treat yourself to this book please--I can't recommend it
highly enough."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray,
"Traditional without seeming stale, and romantic without being naive . . . It's tempting to throw around terms like 'gem' when reading a book like this. But Guernsey is not precious. . . . This is a book for firesides or long train rides. It's as charming and timeless as the novels for which its characters profess their love."--San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"[The] characters step from the past radiant with
eccentricity and kindly humour. [The] writing, with its delicately
offbeat, self-deprecating stylishness, is exquisitely turned."--The
Guardian (U.K.) "I've never wanted to join a club so
desperately as I did while reading Guernsey. . . . [The
novel] is a labor of love and it shows on almost every
page."--The Christian Science Monitor "I could not put the
book down. I have recommended it to all my friends."--Newsday "A
jewel . . . Poignant and keenly observed, Guernsey is a
small masterpiece about love, war, and the immeasurable sustenance
to be found in good books and good friends."--People "A
book-lover's delight, an implicit and sometimes explicit paean to
all things literary."--Chicago Sun-Times
"A sparkling epistolary novel radiating wit, lightly worn erudition and written with great assurance and aplomb."--The Sunday Times (London) "Cooked perfectly point: subtle and elegant in flavour, yet emotionally satisfying to the finish."--The Times (London) "A sweet, sentimental paean to books and those who love them. . . . It affirms the power of books to nourish people enduring hard times."--The Washington Post Book World "[A] marvelous debut . . . This is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration of the power of the written word."--Library Journal
"A poignant, funny novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. . . . A treat."--The Boston Globe
"A sure winner."--Kirkus Reviews "Delightful . . . One of those joyful books that celebrates how reading brings people together."--New Orleans Times-Picayune "Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book-- part Jane Austen, part history lesson. The letters aren't addressed to you, but they are meant for you. It's a book everyone should read. An absolute treasure."--Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells