The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Skeletons at the Feast, Chris Bohjalian
I stumbled (luckily) on both these novels recently, realizing only after the fact that they are both set in World War II. As I started each of them, I thought perhaps I didn’t need to read another book about WWII-I have certainly read many, both fiction and non-fiction, and I think I have taken most of the lessons to be had from those dreadful years. Wrong! These are two wonderful novels that belong on your “To Read” list–and I’m glad I happened on them.
The first, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is funny and charming. It captures the rather old-fashion but delightful flavor of English novels of the time, as well as focusing on the little-discussed Nazi occupation of Guernsey during the War. An epistolary novel, well-written, it is chock full of delightful characters and gives a vivid sense of both London and Guernsey. This one has gotten quite a bit of attention and good reviews-and deservedly so.
Skeletons at the Feast is a more serious and harrowing story based on a diary Bohjalian read. The novel traces the flight of an aristocratic Prussian farm family from their home to escape the Russian troops. Parallel stories follow a young Jewish man on the run in the countryside and a group of young Jewish women in a work camp. I found the characters well-developed, unexpected, and engaging and the plot roars along without pause. The conclusion is a bit trite, but overall the book is very well-realized.