The third book that I read this summer has perhaps one of the longest/strangest titles, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. (Side note: I find it really intriguing when a book has two authors and I'm curious how it works).
I came across this book randomly on a recommended list online, and wasn't quite sure what to expect. Set in London 1946 in the aftermath of World War II, the story is set up through a series of letters between Juliet Ashton, a thirty-something writer, who became famous for her wartime essays written under the penname Izzy Bickerstaff and her publisher, friend, suitor, and a host of others. She is in the process of looking for her next project, when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man who stumbled across her used copy of a book. She begins a correspondence not only with him, but the other members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a strange group that formed on the island of Guernsey during the war while it was occupied by Nazi Germany. The story follows the relationships that she forms with the islanders, all through letters.
You can't help but like the different characters that you meet throughout the story. Particularly charming is Isola, an eccentric woman who has a range of crazy hobbies from making tonics for various ailments to phrenology, reading the bumps on peoples heads.
The book also provides a really interesting historical perspective. I'll be honest that I had to look up Guernsey while reading, as I'd never heard of it. Sadly, the descriptions of the Occupation and some of the truly awful things that happened in this fictional tale did happen to real people. There is a particularly heart-wrenching story during the book in which a few of the members of the society take care of a teenage Todt worker (slaves that were shipped to the island to work), who tried to steal a potato from a garden, but was too weak to eat it. There are other sad stories, but also some very uplifting ones.
It was a fast read, and one that I would definitely recommend.