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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Discussion Guide: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer

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Get personal with Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows are aunt and niece, respectively. Mary Ann an American writer, editor, librarian, and a bookshop worker. Mary Ann started wrote The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in 2006 but as the editing process began she became ill with cancer. She asked her niece, Annie Barrows to step in. Sadly, Mary Ann never saw the publication or success of her novel.   Annie Barrows has written several non-fiction books on topics ranging form fortune-telling to opera. In 2006, the first book in her children's series, Ivy & Bean, was published. This title, an ALA Notable Book for 2007, was followed by nine others. 

Also by Annie Barrows


Did you know?

A film adaptation, directed by Mike Newell premiered in London on 9 April 2018, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 20 April. It was released in other international areas, such as the United States, Canada, Latin America and certain parts of Europe, by Netflix as an original film on 10 August 2018.

Discussion Questions

From litlovers:

1. What was your experience reading a novel composed entirely of letters? Are there types of information or emotion that letters convey more successfully than other forms of expression? Would a novel in emails have different strengths and weaknesses?

2. What makes Sidney and Sophie ideal friends for Juliet? What common ground do they share? Do you now have or have you had people in your life who have offered similar support to you?

3. Dawsey first writes to Juliet because books are so difficult to obtain on Guernsey in the aftermath of the war. What differences do you note between bookselling in the 1940s and bookselling today? Do book lovers share common qualities across generations?

4. What were your first impressions of Dawsey? How is he different from the other men in Juliet’s life?

5. Discuss the writers who capture the hearts of the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Does a reader's taste in books reveal anything significant about his or her personality?

5. Whose lives are changed the most by their membership in the society?

6. In what ways are Juliet and Elizabeth kindred spirits? What does Elizabeth's spontaneous invention of the Society say about her approach to life? What does her bravery reveal about it?

7. Numerous Guernsey residents give Juliet access to their private memories of the occupation. Which voices were most memorable for you? What is the effect of reading a variety of responses to a shared tragedy? 8. How does Remy's presence enhance the lives of those on Guernsey? Through her survival, what recollections, hopes, and lessons are preserved?

9. What historical facts about life in England during World War II were you especially surprised to discover? What qualities of wartime experience are captured in a detail such as the invention of the potato peel pie? Are there ways in which fiction can provide the means for more fully understanding a historical reality?

10. Which member of the Society was your favorite? Whose literary opinions are most like your own? Do you agree with Isola that "reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones"?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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