Bits from “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”

My friend NT found The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows in the bargain bin at her library and gave it to me before we moved. I rediscovered it, as yet unread, while unpacking, and finally had a chance to read it while procrastinating from something else.

I laughed, I cried, I learned about the German occupation of Guernsey in the English Channel. It had a map, dinner parties, sand castles, intrigue, copious mentions of Oscar Wilde, much-needed slaps across two faces, drama, romance, history, and letters! (It was written as a series of letters, which maybe made me enjoy it even more.)

Here are some of my favo(u)rite bits: [be wary of SPOILERS!]

Teaser: “Why did a roast pig dinner have to be kept a secret? How could a pig cause you to begin a literary society? And, most pressing of all, what is a potato peel pie—and why is it included in your society’s name?”

“[B]ooksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one—the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it—along with first dibs on the new books.”

“…I’m not certain that my scruples could withstand the sight of handsome shoes.”

“I expect I was tipsy, because I usually was.”

“I would never make fun of anyone who loved to read.”

“Her light, frivolous turn of mind gained her a large following among the less intellectually inclined readers—of whom, I fear, there are many.”

“Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.”

“To hell with docile.”

“I am an antiquarian ironmonger, though it pleases some to call me a rag-and-bone man.”

“It’s death that goes on… There’s no end to that. But perhaps there will be an end to the sorrow of it.”

“What a blight that woman is. Do you happen to know why? I lean toward a malignant fairy at her christening.”

“I have no passion for groves and valleys. The rooms where I was born, the furniture which has been before my eyes all my life, a book case which has followed me about like a faithful dog wherever I have moved…”

“the Mind will make friends of any thing”

“if one cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and ‘fruitfulness’ is drawn in”

“Isola exaggerates, but only enough to enjoy herself.”

“A sausage—how appetizing.”

“… I hope they burn in hell with polkas blaring.”

“Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb.”

“Do you arrange your books alphabetically? (I hope not.)”

“This way lies insanity.”

“When adding eggs, break the shells first.”

“It’s a daunting task.”

“My aunt says she will never set foot in our house again, and Mother hasn’t spoken to me since that day. I find it all very peaceful.”

“One year as his wife, and I’d have become one of those abject, quaking women who look at their husbands when someone asks them a question. I’ve always despised that type, but I see how it happens now.”

“You may even preen in my presence—this one time, but never again.”

“I think we should all go together and buy her a silver teapot so she can quit and stay home nights.”

“I hear you and that pig-farmer are going to regularize your connection. Praise the Lord!”

“You too can learn to read Head Bumps! Stun Your Friends, Confound Your Enemies with Indisputable Knowledge of Their Human Faculties or Lack of Them.”

“Of course, I want outright adoption, but I’m not sure Mr. Dilwyn would consider a spinster lady of flexible income and no fixed abode a desirable parent.”

“What a blessing that I have no imagination and am able to see things clearly.”

“I worry about Booker, he needs to read a new book. I think I will lend him Jane Austen.”

According to Wikipedia, there may be a film made out of it at some point or never (which is true of most things, or even all).

I’ve sent the book along to EZH for, in the words of Juliet: “Perhaps there is some sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.

Christopher Howse adds: “The great fallacy is to think that you own a book. You don’t. You are just looking after it till it gets a new guardian.”

Those are great quotes for my new procrastinating hobby of making bookmarks, and my continued procrastinatory practice of mailing people things (now with added bookmarks!).

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