First published in 2008, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has made its way to the small, streaming screen of Netflix just this year. I noticed it when I was scrolling through, looking for something to watch, and knew I had to read the book first before I watched the movie. I’m annoying like that.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows takes place just after the end of World War II in 1946. Parts of London remain piles of rubble and people still wait for loved ones to return from the prison camps they were sent to overseas. The war in its entire horror has not yet been realized by the characters, but life still goes on. Juliet Ashton is engaged in a cross-country tour of England, promoting the book she wrote under her pen name, Izzy Bickerstaff. The book is a compilation of the columns she wrote about life during World War II, and despite the success of it, Juliet wishes to retire her pen name and write something of substance under her own name.
While trying to come up with a book idea of her own, Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a complete stranger, who lives on the island of Guernsey and has come into possession of her old copy of Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb. Dawsey requests more information about the author and any other information and news Juliet can give him since the Nazis cut off all communication with the world outside of the island for five years during the German Occupation. Dawsey also mentions that he’s a part of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which immediately piques Juliet’s interest. Thus begins a correspondence between Juliet, Dawsey, and other members of the society and their adventures during the war.
The premise of the novel itself is unique, but so is the epistolary format in which it is told. In other words, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is told completely in letters between the various characters, making it a super quick and entertaining read. The Netflix film features big-ticket names like Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, and Penelope Wilton. I can’t wait to see it! (And compare/contrast/dissect every way in which the book is different; I’m annoying like that.)
Happy Reading! (And Watching!)