Netflix and Read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

First published in 2008, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has made its way to the small, streaming screen of Netflix just this year. I noticed it when I was scrolling through, looking for something to watch, and knew I had to read the book first before I watched the movie. I’m annoying like that.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows takes place just after the end of World War II in 1946. Parts of London remain piles of rubble and people still wait for loved ones to return from the prison camps they were sent to overseas. The war in its entire horror has not yet been realized by the characters, but life still goes on. Juliet Ashton is engaged in a cross-country tour of England, promoting the book she wrote under her pen name, Izzy Bickerstaff. The book is a compilation of the columns she wrote about life during World War II, and despite the success of it, Juliet wishes to retire her pen name and write something of substance under her own name.

While trying to come up with a book idea of her own, Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a complete stranger, who lives on the island of Guernsey and has come into possession of her old copy of Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb. Dawsey requests more information about the author and any other information and news Juliet can give him since the Nazis cut off all communication with the world outside of the island for five years during the German Occupation. Dawsey also mentions that he’s a part of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which immediately piques Juliet’s interest. Thus begins a correspondence between Juliet, Dawsey, and other members of the society and their adventures during the war.

The premise of the novel itself is unique, but so is the epistolary format in which it is told. In other words, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is told completely in letters between the various characters, making it a super quick and entertaining read. The Netflix film features big-ticket names like Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, and Penelope Wilton. I can’t wait to see it! (And compare/contrast/dissect every way in which the book is different; I’m annoying like that.)

Happy Reading! (And Watching!)

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is a narrative set in the past and that includes fictional characters as well as historical figures. Historical Fiction writers typically try to be as accurate as possible with extensive research, which is usually included in a bibliography at the end of the novel. Historical Fiction has always been popular, and the Aurora Public Library District and the Indiana Digital Download Center have numerous titles available. If you like history, then Historical Fiction is a genre for you.

Some authors will write a novel or two based in the past, but other authors specifically write Historical Fiction. Here are a few Historical Fiction titles we have on our shelves at the Aurora Public Library District:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah,  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Lorna Doone: A Romance of Examoor by R.D. Blackmore,  The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (just to name a few!).


Philippa Gregory is one of the most well-known current historical fiction writers. She is known for taking minor historical figures and making them the center of her tale. Her writing is extensively researched and she tries to be as accurate as possible. Start with The Other Boleyn Girl.


Tracy Chevalier is known for describing the artistic process behind a famous work of art. Her newest novel, At the Edge of the Orchard, was released this past year and follows a pioneer family for three generations from Ohio to California. Start with Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks draws from momentous historical events and turns them into personal experiences, which shows her roots as a journalist. Start with March, which is based on the life of the father from Little Women during the Civil War.


John Hersey writes war stories based on actual events with multiple characters and storylines throughout. He is one of the many Historical Fiction writer who also writes Nonfiction. Start with A Bell for Adano.


Mark Frost writes action-packed war stories as well as Historical Fiction Mysteries. He researches each subject thoroughly to give as accurate of an account as possible. Start with The Second Objective.


James Alexander Thom sets many of his novels in early America. The main conflicts typically involve clashes with Native Americans. His characters are extremely well-rounded and believable. His novels can also crossover into the Western genre. Start with Follow the River.


One element of Historical Fiction that is almost unique to the genre is the Family Saga, which tells the story of one particular family over the course of years or generations. Some popular Historical Fiction authors who write Family Sagas are Barbara Taylor Bradford, Janette Oke, and Colleen McCullough.


Other notable Historical Fiction writers are Jennifer Donnelly, Philippa Carr, Ralph Peters, Madeleine Brent, Isabel Allende, Anya Seton, and Diana Gabaldon. Be sure to ask the staff who their favorite Historical Fiction writers are, or check out the Indiana Digital Download Center for more titles.

Happy Reading!


Travel Back in Time with Teen Fiction

I admit that lots of our Teen books are fantasy or paranormal romance, but hidden among the seemingly endless trilogies are some real gems that can transport you back in time. You won’t be traveling with the use of a time travel machine, but with the help of compelling, thought-provoking historical fiction. These books cover a wide range of time periods and can vary from traditional perspectives to the unexpected to the very strange. As a life-long fan of historical fiction, here are some great choices!

Author M.T. Anderson won accolades in 2015 for his non-fiction Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Seige of Leningrad, but his Young Adult novel The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: the Pox Party won both a National Book Award and a Michael Prinz Award the year it was published.

octavian nothing

Yes, this title is a mouthful, but it is the fascinating and weird story of a slave boy in Boston immediately before the American Revolution. The story was continued in the second volume The Kingdom on the Waves. These books may very well spur you to read more about the plight of American slaves during the Revolution.

Bloodline by Katy Moran and the companion novel Bloodline Rising are set in England during the time of the Angle invasion. Don’t get these confused with the Bloodlines by Richelle Mead which is a vampire series!

bloodline    Bloodline Rising

Geraldine Brooks’ first novel, Year of Wonders, is based on the true story of English villagers who decide to quarantine their town to avoid spreading the Black Plague.

year of wonders

Meghan Nuttal Sayres addresses the role of women in  19th century Iran in the wonderful book Anahita’s Woven Riddle.


If you’re a fan of survival stories, nothing can match this retelling of the 1910 Shackleton Expedition to Antarctica.


Here are some of the best of our Teen World War II novels. After the publication of Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein wrote Rose Under Fire, another story of a female pilot in the war. Ruth Sepetys’ novel Between Shades of Gray was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal, Great Britain’s equivalent of the Newbery and Prinz Awards. Tamar, by Mal Peet won the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

verity     boxing club

between shades     Tamar

History, as taught in schools, focuses heavily on events that had a major impact on the U.S., but historical fiction can open your eyes to things that happened around the world – things you may not have heard of in school.

child of dandelions     disappeared

More and more non-fiction is being published in Graphic Novel format. The 2 book set by Gene Yang about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers and Saints is truly outstanding!