Fiction Books - Reviews

Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, published by Random House, 2008

The inspiration for this book came when author Mary Ann Shaffer was grounded at the airport on the British island of Guernsey.  She took home an armload of books on the German occupation of Guernsey during World War II and became fascinated with the island’s history and beauty.  The story is told through letters and notes, which might deter some readers from picking up this book.  However, the unique voices the authors give to the different characters make this a worthwhile and enjoyable read.  The main character, Juliet, a London author, receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. They begin exchanging letters, and Juliet is captivated by the members of this literary club that was formed to help get them through the German occupation. The authors use numerous voices and characters--all uniquely different--to tell this tale, which makes it a delightful story.


The Night Birds by Thomas Maltman, published by Soho Press, 2008

The Night Birds is a multi-generational story of German immigrants who settle in Missouri in the 1850’s and then move to southern Minnesota in 1859. It is told in two time frames, the 1850’s, when Jakob Senger moves his family to Minnesota, and the 1870’s, through the eyes of young Asa Senger, Jakob’s grandson.  Jakob’s family endures many hardships as they struggle to carve out a life in the Minnesota frontier, living side by side with the Dakota Indians. The Great Sioux War of 1862 changes everything. The uprising and its aftermath are central factors in this book, along with nature and its harshness. Maltman does a great job depicting all the characters in The Night Birds: the young and the old, the Indians and the settlers. It is a captivating story, based on real events.

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