The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: a post-war tale of love and intrigue

20 April 2018

From the producers of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY & POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY is in cinemas April 20th.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society 

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is a compelling romantic drama with an intriguing mystery at its heart.

Downton Abbey star Lily James plays free-spirited writer Juliet Ashton, who forms a life-changing bond with the eccentric Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, when she decides to write about the book club they formed during the occupation of Guernsey in WWII.

Joining Lily James is an all-star cast, including Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Michiel Huisman and Matthew Goode. Together they bring Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows' post-war romance to life, as well as shining a light on the little-known experience of the islanders who lived through Guernsey's occupation during the Second World War.

Opening on April 20 in cinemas across the UK, Saga Magazine's Editor, Simon Hemelryk says 'The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is a brilliant combination of post-war romance, intrigue and books.'

Read Pauline McLeod's review of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society below


Film review: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society 

Pauline McLeod reviews this charming tale of romance, intrigue and book groups in the wartime Channel Islands. 

Without doubt, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one unwieldy mouthful and initially I struggled to remember the words in the right order because they didn’t seem to belong together! That they do becomes clear very early on.

Still, it’s hardly worth getting in a tizz about, particularly as this romantic Second World War film, with hidden depth, a strong backbone and rooted in fact, is based on the best-selling novel of the very same name co-authored by American writer Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows.

As the secrets, lies and deepest of bonds shared by a disparate group of bookworms on the Nazi-occupied Channel island unfold, it’s clear they needed their imagination in every aspect of daily life. The Germans had filched their livestock and islanders were reduced to eating whatever they could forage - including potato peelings.

Gentle and witty, the thread of harsh reality underscores throughout. Award-winning director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) unveils this tale of brave defiance and stoicism coupled with a delicious, blossoming love story and skilfully weaves in the island’s five-year occupation and beginnings of recovery, coupling them with flashbacks to post-war London.   

Even the keenest eye is unlikely to spot that, for the most part, the island’s lush countryside and magnificent coastline, are in fact, Devon and Cornwall. Apart from its iconic landmarks – the original WW2 look-out towers – it was logistically unrealistic to transform modern day Guernsey back to the forties for filming.

Lily James (Cinderella, Darkest Hour) delights as Juliet Ashton, a successful London writer who lost both parents during the Blitz and is struggling to re-engage with her pre-war grand lifestyle, which now feels somewhat shallow. She’s being pursued by Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell), a dashing and pushy upwardly mobile American GI, when out of the blue a letter arrives from Dawsey Adams, (dishy Michiel Huisman, Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones) a Guernsey pig farmer.

He hasn’t a clue who Juliet is: her name and address are on the inside jacket of a book he and his aforementioned friends liked. On the off-chance, might she be able to help him source other novels by the same author? 

They begin a pen-pal friendship, with Dawsey opening up more than he should to a stranger about his book group and the war years. When she goes to Guernsey to write a piece about the society for The Times, her controlling boyfriend promptly proposes, planting an enormous rock on her finger to seal the deal. Little does he know that lightning bolts are about to strike…  

The enchanting and charismatic Ms James leads a tremendous cast which includes three alumni from her Downton Abbey days – Matthew Goode as Juliet’s friend and publisher, Sidney; Penelope Wilton is islander Amelia, starchy in the face of her genteel but tenacious questioning, especially when it’s about the mysterious Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay).

Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) is completely lovely as the eccentric Isola who brews the best black market gin on the island and Tom Courtenay is the seemingly dotty but in fact, sharp-witted postmaster Eben.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society opens nationwide April 20, certificate 12A.

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