Friday, August 15, 2008

Meet Annie Barrows

Yesterday, I was invited, along with 11 other booksellers, to have lunch with Annie Barrows. I received an Advance Reading Copy of her book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, when I attended the BEA in May. Because of the enthusiastic recommendations of the reps who were there, it was one of the first I read. It is truly a great book. Before it was released I pre-ordered copies to be sent to my Mom, my daughters, and three friends; that's how good it is. Because of this type of enthusiasm from booksellers, it was already on the best seller list on its publish date; very unusual for a first time author.

Now, to back up a bit, Annie Barrows has been published before. She is an established author of children’s books. If you have kids, you are probably familiar with her Ivy and Bean series, and her book The Magic Half; but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is her first adult novel, and she co-authored it with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer.

The back story is that Aunt Mary Ann was a wonderful story-teller, and her friends wanted her to write a book about one of her favorite interest, the Nazi occupation of the Isle of Guernsey during WWII. Aunt Mary Ann resisted the idea and finally her friends tricked her into joining a "writers group", and she began the hard work of the novel. Aunt Mary Ann had just finished her first and only novel, when she grew ill. She died of abdominal cancer in February at age 73. Knowing she wasn't going to be able to tie up all the loose ends, Aunt Mary Ann asked her niece, Annie, to help with revisions.

Annie had a close relationship with Aunt Mary Ann, her entire life, and that relationship helped her be true to the original intent of the novel. She said, "I can hear that voice in my sleep," reminiscing about Aunt Mary Ann, who worked for years in the bookshops and libraries of the San Francisco Bay area. Annie also told us that Aunt Mary Ann was able to see one draft of the book before she died. She said to Annie, "I can't read this", Annie replied, "I know, it's in Dutch, but it's the first one I've gotten.
Annie revealed yesterday, that she has a contract for two additional adult novels. Yippe, good for us.


lisaschaos said...

I didn't know any of this. You are always a wealth of information!

Daryl said...

I was reading about this novel the other day and put it on my 'to buy' list ..


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