Mike Newell (director)
27 August 2018 (released)
02 September 2018
If the film’s title surely is a mouthful, then the actual recipe is not… as the viewer will find out during the course of this heart-warming and moving story set during and shortly after WW2.
Based on the best-selling novel by Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY & POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY follows London-based writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James) in her attempt to find out more about the peculiarly named Society of the film’s title and finding true love in the process…
The story, however, doesn’t really begin in 1946 but in 1941 on the island of Guernsey, then under German occupation. There, four local friends are stopped by German soldiers for breaching curfew. They are: Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), Isola Pribby (Katherine Parkinson) and Eben Ramsey (Tom Courteney) whose drunk and loud behaviour alerted the soldiers in the first place. In a desperate attempt to avoid being arrested the small group claims to have returned from their weekly ‘book club’ – christened ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ as this was the first name that sprang to mind in their joint panic. Suffice to say that until that fateful moment said society didn’t even exist but well, so it came that the island’s Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was born. Forward to 1946 (in this case the present) and attractive young author Juliet Ashton is seen in a London bookstore promoting her latest novel (published under her nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff). London is still ravaged from the Blitz and in brief flashbacks we see how Juliet has had do endure her own share of trauma and loss during those war-torn years. Now her publisher Sidney Stark (Matthew Goode) has secured a new contract for her which involves writing stories about the benefits of literature for The Times Literary supplement. In between her new career prospects, Juliet attends glamorous parties with her boyfriend Mark Reynolds, a wealthy and influential young American who presents her with an expensive engagement ring.
A few days later Juliet (via her agency) receives a letter from a certain Dawsey Adams from Guernsey who, by chance, has come into possession of a copy of Juliet’s book ‘Essays of Elia’ and now wants to buy another book by the same author, Charles Lamb. In the letter, Dawsey asks Juliet whether she knows of another London bookshop which might sell Lamb’s works and mentions he would like a copy for his Guernsey Literary Society. Intrigued by the letter and by the curious title of the island’s literary society, Juliet agrees to trace another copy of Lamb’s works for Dawsey but she will send it only under the condition that Dawsey tells her more of the curiously titled literary society. The agreed deal ensues in a regular exchange of letters between Dawsey and Juliet until one day she decides that it might be a good idea to visit the island of Guernsey and find out more about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ for herself, with the possibility of writing an article about it. Despite her agent’s reservations Juliet sets off in the direction of Guernsey where the members of the Society are all rather excited over her visit. In particular Dawsey, who somehow expected Juliet to be an elderly bespectacled frump, seems pleasantly surprised and we now that love is in their air long before they know it!
During flashback sequences, Juliet learns about the fate of some of Guernsey’s inhabitants during the occupation, in particular that of Elizabeth, whose little daughter Kit, or so Juliet assumes, is the daughter of Liz and Dawsey… but through the poisonous tongue of Juliet’s Irish ‘fire and brimstone’ landlady Charlotte Stimple (Bronagh Gallagher) a very different story emerges, one that – in due course – will not only change the lives of two islanders in particular but it will also change the fate of Juliet and her fiancé Mark…
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY is superbly acted and combines romance and history in a way which manages to be entertaining and thought-provoking in equal measures.
Among the Bonus Material are Cast & Crew interviews and the documentary ‘The History behind the film: The Occupation of Guernsey Story’.