Tag Archives: book club

Review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

A copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was left in my Little Free Library and I nabbed it.

Description from Goodreads:
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.

Review:
Honestly, I absolutely adored this and I didn’t expect to. This is the book my book club chose this month. Despite possessing it for quite a while (it was put in my Little Free Library and no one had taken it yet), I had no real intention of reading it. A whole story told through correspondences—letters and telegrams—no, the idea did not appeal. But I’m committed to the club, so I gritted my teeth and picked it up…and couldn’t put it down.

I went on a weekend trip while reading this book. At one point my aunt and daughter were whispering and then laughing at me. When I finally looked up to see why, my aunt said, “We’re just saying how cute you are, over there reading your book and grinning to yourself.” I wasn’t aware of it, but yes, that’s exactly how this book made me feel. Happy.

I adored the characters and the style actually works with the letter-writing. I did think breaking form at the end and telling the climax in a diary style (instead of letter), was a poor choice and it was quite abrupt. But even that was excusable, since the whole thing just made me feel good. I 100% recommend it.

I’ve also learned there’s a movie being made of the book. (Maybe even made, though it’s not out in the US yet.)

As much as I loved the book, I’m wary of the idea of a movie. It’s not exactly action packed and the quaint language of the written word is what makes the book work. I just can’t see it doing well on screen. I hope I’m wrong on that one, the trailer looks good.

Review of The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan

I bought a copy of Ruth Hogan‘s The Keeper of Lost Things.


Description from Goodreads:
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—

Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidently left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?


Review:
You guys, I’m not a weeper, but there were several points during The Keeper of Lost Things that made me tear up and one that made me sob. (The last nursing home scene, for those who have or will read it. OMG, be strong my breaking heart!)

Yes, I disliked a few of the side stories and I would have like a little more resolution on a few point. (How did the wife die? How did Laura make up for the final horrible things she said to Freddie?) But more important than any small niggles I had was how much the book made me feel. I frequently chuckled and awed and, yes, cried. To me, this is the mark of a wonderful book.

I also really liked the characters, even Portia (Ok, like is a strong word, but I appreciated Portia.), and I thought the writing was beautiful, quaintly English and easy to read. I look forward to reading more of Hogan’s work and I have to thank my bookclub for picking this book for our monthly read. I doubt I’d have read it otherwise.

Review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I borrowed a copy of Neil Gaiman‘s The Ocean at the End of the Lane from my local library. It was my book club book this month.

Description from Goodreads:
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Review:
I appreciate the way this wrapped around into something satisfyingly circular. I thought it was well written, with a good voice and thoughtful perspective. Seeing a seven-year-old’s perspective on things reconsidered with adult eyes was interesting. For the most part I really enjoyed it. It just felt a little too fantastical and weird at times. Like maybe Gaimen needed to reign himself in a little.