Review and Redesign | The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This is my first blog post in five years, and I really missed it. For the past decade I've struggled with what to write, what would even interest anyone to pick up and read a blog, especially now as the medium is in decline. But I've been part of this community since pretty much it came to exist, when the internet and myself were at our infancy (well, I was a teenager, but what is a teenager if not a child with worst skin?). The last few weeks I got the itch to write again, to share my thoughts with a wide audience of one: me. I decided that it's inconsequential to me if anyone reads this or not, but I just need to write it.

So, here's an intro to one of the topics this blog will now cover: books. I'll be doing book reviews and often, I'll also take a stab at doing a quick redesign of the book cover as well—not necessarily because the book cover was ugly. I'll split the reviews in three parts: the book review, a stand out quote, and the cover redesign. I hope this is nothing like what you have ever seen anywhere else before. 

Guernsey2.jpg

(the image above is not the final redesign, just the teaser. keep scrolling)

Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (therefore referred as TGLPPPS)
Goodreads | Book Depository

The Book Review

Who picks a book off the shelf called TGLPPPS and thinks "yes, that sounds like something I'd want to read." Yes, the title of this book IS a deterrent, as many know, and even though it received an enthusiastic review from one of my co-workers (albeit not the co-workers I usually trust with book revires...) I didn't pick it up. Then Netflix had to go and buy the movie and cast Matthew Goode in it. 

Yes. I saw the movie first. 

And I enjoyed it immensely. 

So I looked up the book online again, found it for a $1,16 on Amazon Kindle and bought it. And how I wished my co-worker would have just hit me in the head with it and said "You say you love books, but you don't because you are judging this book by it's awful cover and tittle, and because an old guy, recommended it to you." Yes, I am that kind of horrible person. Then another co-worker (one that I very much trust on book recommendations) said that the book was better than the movie, so I started to read same day.

But this book was lovely. And yes, better than the movie. It's a complete different story, with characters that in no way resemble the characters from the movie. I love the simplicity of it, and the narrators were delightful. It's such a cozy little amazingness of a book. I fell in love with it and was ready to pack my bags to Guernsey. I wish it had never ended. 

Juliet, our main character and main narrator, looked nothing like Lily James in my head. She looked exactly like Keira Knightley, and sounded exactly like my friend Christy Seifert sounds like in real life. But the folks of Guernsey were the ones to stole the show. I think I fell in love with this book because so many of the letters were characters talking about how they fell in love with reading. Reading wasn't only about something to do under the Nazi's noses, but the passion with each character told their stories of reading and books, I couldn't resist. 

I've fallen in love with books several times. They've been my companions since a young age. Here's a few of our best moments:

  • At some early age I can't remember much of: I remember begging my mom to read me books all day long, but she, unlike toddler me, had shit to do. I remember her buying one of those activity books for your child to learn how to read and write themselves and I was in book heaven.

  • Middle school: that time isn't easy on anyone, but I had a particular rough time. One day, out of nowhere, my group of friends stopped talking to me. I still don't know why, but suddenly I was alone. My school's small library became my refuge, and for the next year and a half, I read most of the books they had in the middle grade and high school sections. I skipped the Sidney Sheldons because I was already pretty savvy at age 12 and knew what books were fun bad, and what books were just plain bad—or, as they say in TGLPPPS, “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”

  • Final years of college: that's the year I fell in love with reading in English. I was again feeling lonely, and enrolled in English classes again (can't remember if the two were related). But English classes are expensive and imported paperbacks were cheaper than national books. So thanks to this amazing new bookstore that had just opened in my town, I started a new book collection. I've read tons of romance novels (easy to read as a ESL, and love IS an universal language) and discovered Jane Austen. Classics in a foreign language sounded scary, but Jane was so clever, I had no trouble with her. I've read her entire collection (except for Emma) in half a year. I have never actually read Jane Austen in any other language than English!

Maybe this has not been my most eloquent review, but I am just warming up. Also, if you need any further convincing, please grab the heaviest object you are physically capable of lifting closest to you, and hit yourself in the head with it if you still think a book with a title this stupid is not worth your time. You are welcome!

The Quote

I am to cover the philosophical side of the debate and so far my only thought is that reading keeps you from going gaga.
— Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows, TGLPPPS

The Cover Redesign

At the start of this post, I mentioned how I would like to do a quick redesign of covers of books I've read and want to review. I included a little note about that I wasn't going to do it necessarily because I didn't like the cover, but on the case of TGLPPPS, I did actually hate the cover. The original, any others I've seen online, and especially the movie tie-in edition (and let's not go on a rant about movie tie-in editions or this post will get too long). 

I had this cover redesigned in my head within the first few chapters of reading. The roast pig story was one of my favorites, and the lady reading from her own cookbook and making everyone mad. Granted, I do tend to read right before bed, and I barely eat any food in the evening during the summer months, so that may have contributed to some extent to me favoring those food-related scenes. I wanted to redesign the cover of this book to resemble a 1970s American country home-style cooking book, with a checkered table cloth, and a big roasting pig in the centre of the table. This was a war-time roasted pig though, so no apples adorned its mouth, he is quite simple. I also wanted some chunky and old-fashioned font to take the other 2/3 of the cover. 

I wasn't happy with how little space I left for the author's names, so that's definitely something to pay attention to in the future. 

Honorable Mention

Granny Pheen's letters, and Muffin/Solange the cat extraordinaire is THE BEST PART OF TGLPPPS. I don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't read it, but Muffin/Solange the cat is a fanfic waiting to be written, and I might as well do it. Keep your eye on this space.