The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
(Dial, $22)

Bookworms are suckers for novels about people like themselves, said Yvonne Zipp in The Christian Science Monitor. Present us with any clutch of characters who sit around and talk about their favorite reads, and “we’ll be engrossed for hours.” But this debut work from the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows, is a standout among books about book clubs. Written as a series of 1946 letters between a witty London columnist and a small Channel Island community that survived Nazi occupation, it gives off a “labor of love” sparkle from every page. The reading club that gives the book its cutesy title turns out to have been invented by the locals as an alibi to use when the Nazis caught them violating curfew, said People. Through their letters, the islanders open the columnist’s eyes to the hardships the community endured, but they also convey “the immeasurable sustenance to be found in good books and good friends.” Guernsey is a small wonder, “poignant and keenly observed.”