10 April 2018

Potato Peel Pie Confusion

Thanks to the new movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the island will hopefully benefit from literary and possibly culinary tourism. However, is the Potato Peel Pie recipe actually real?

“I have not come across any evidence that suggests Potato Peel Pie was actually cooked during the Occupation in Guernsey,” says author Anne Allen who has written six contemporary and historical novels of her own about the island.

“Whilst the islanders had to be thrifty during the Occupation, this particular recipe is not documented.

“I believe it may have been confused with potato peel cake, made with potato peel and onions according to a Guernsey resident who lived through the Occupation.”

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was written by American author Mary Ann Shaffer, who got the idea after being fogbound at Guernsey airport in 1980. She spent the night reading local books about the Occupation in Jersey. However, it was over twenty-years before she began writing the novel, after encouragement from her local book club in California. Tragically, she was dying when she brought in her niece, children’s writer Ann Barrows, to help finish it off.

The novel, which is written as a series of letters, was an unexpected success and sold over 2 million copies world wide.

“Although Mary Ann Shaffer’s story is a nice read, however, I’m not sure she could have conducted very thorough research.

“I lived in Guernsey for fourteen years, and have read many books about the Occupation, and was even donated diaries from islanders who lived through the Occupation – and I have never unearthed evidence of Potato Peel Pie being cooked.

“Whilst researching for my series, The Guernsey Novels, I discovered a wide variety of interesting WWII recipes from Guernsey including a steamed pudding made out of grated carrots, potatoes and oats.

“Bearing in mind the importance of research I have tried very hard to ensure that I have used authentic Guernsey dishes in my novels, as well as using the names of real restaurants, hotels, roads, and landmarks.

“I also try to check they were in existence in the time period of each novel.”

Whilst Anne Allen was not born in Guernsey, she knows it very well and enjoyed living there for fourteen years. She first visited the island in 1987, and one-year later she migrated with her three children.

“I fell in love with the island immediately. It was a combination of the beautiful scenery- incorporating big sandy beaches, cliff top walks, sheltered coves and the fantastic people I met.

“Guernsey is home to some fabulous restaurants, hotels, and cafes. It’s a wonderful island to visit and to live on.”

A psychotherapist by profession, Anne set up her own practice on the island, giving her a fantastic insight into the psyche of the islanders. She reluctantly left the island due to a relationship breakdown, and moved back to Devon. However, Guernsey was always in her heart, and when her children flew the nest she put pen to paper and drafted her first novel as her homage to the island. A few months later, she was encouraged to enter a True-Life writing competition in Prima magazine and was surprised when she won.

“Winning the competition boosted my confidence and encouraged me to publish my first book, Dangerous Waters, which led me to create a whole series of standalone books about the island.

“The Guernsey Novels are my homage to a place I love dearly.

“My oldest son still lives on the island and I visit regularly. On my next trip back to Guernsey, I plan on sampling the culinary delights of its famous restaurants and cafes. I am looking forward to eating the island’s famous Gâche, a fruit bread smothered with rich Guernsey butter. No calorie counting allowed!”

The island’s tourism is set to boom, thanks to the new movie, and Visit Guernsey has launched a £130k television advertising campaign featuring a new TV ad: “Visit the island that inspired the story”.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society boasts many stars including Lily James of Downton Abbey. The movie is being premiered in London on 9 April and will be available in cinemas nationwide from 20 April.

Whilst Anne has been disappointed in the lack of authenticity in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society novel, she is looking forward to watching the movie.

“I am impressed with the casting, and delighted that so many stars from Downton Abbey will be in the movie.

“Lily James and Jessica Brown Findlay both look fabulous in the trailer and I think all of the actors will do Guernsey proud.

“I hope that the film, along with all The Guernsey Novels, will help encourage people to visit this beautiful and magical island.”


Notes for Editors

1) Anne Allen is available for telephone interviews and is happy to provide any further information that you may require. Please email and we will be able to organise a suitable time for you to talk.

2) HD images are available in her Media Centre  or upon request via email

4) The Guernsey Novels are available from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and other bookstores.

5) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie will be screened in cinemas from 20 April.