8/11/18

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This film was adapted from the wonderful novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which in turn, was inspired by events during WWII: the Channel Islands, despite their proximity to England, were occupied by German troops and the residents endured great hardships.

The society came into existence when a little group of terrified citizens was caught outdoors after curfew by German troops. This goofy seat-of-the-pants idea took hold and they actually began meeting to read and discuss books, first out of necessity, then because they found it had value. This sense of connection became vital for each of them.

With a screenplay by a trio of excellent writers, Director Mike Newell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Prince of Persia") has assembled an outstanding cast and brings us an exciting, fascinating look at a situation that most of us knew nothing about.

Part of Newell's sterling cast:
  • Lily James ("Mamma Mia" and "Cinderella") Successful author Juliet Ashton has learned of the society through a fluke (a member writes to her for a copy of a book) which triggers her interest in such a curiously named book club.
  • Matthew Goode ("The Crown") Sidney Stark is her agent, who reluctantly reschedules her book signing tour so she can satisfy her curiosity.
  • Michiel Huisman ("Game of Thrones") Dawsey Adams is the pig farmer who writes to her.
  • Tom Courtenay ("Grandpa's Great Escape") Eben Ramsey is the first gracious face our heroine encounters after she lands on Guernsey Island.
  • Glen Powell ("Hidden Figures") Mark Reynolds is her American fiancĂ©.
  • Penelope Wilton ("Downton Abbey") took my breath away with her portrayal of the still-grieving Amelia Maugery.
Important Note: I can only find a TV-14 rating and can't see a United States release date. I saw this on Netflix, courtesy of a wonderful friend.

No gunshots, no sex, no vehicular mayhem and no profanity. Just excellent acting and an engrossing story. The WWII period is beautifully captured through the music, fashions and vehicles, while the post-war period feels authentic: e.g., the boarding house needs Juliet's ration stamps in order to provide milk for her tea.

Be sure to watch the closing credits because during them you will be treated to snippets of excerpts from well-known books. It's great fun (and satisfying) to identify each book.
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