In the same ilk at Suite Francais and Brooklyn, director Mike Newell recreates a story of love and love lost, in the aftermath of WW2 on the once Nazi-occupied Guernsey.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society draws you in slowly. It begins in post-war London where we meet Juliet Ashton (Lily James, Downton Abbey), successful author and her American beau, Mark Reynolds (Glen Powell, Hidden Figures). On receiving an intriguing request from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman, Game of Thrones), a local Guernsey pig farmer and one of the instigators of the Society, a lengthy correspondence ensues. Before long, she boards the steamer for the tiny isle, waving goodbye to her newly-minted fiance Mark on the docks, to meet them.
Her impromptu visit, however, does not prove completely welcome. Society member Amelia (Penelope Wilton, Downton Abbey) is suspicious of Juliet’s presence and worries that a secret they all ferociously guard will rip them apart if exposed. The longer Juliet stays on the island, a deeper kinship is formed with the group, especially Dawsey, and with the island. Its’ stark contrast with London, affects Juliet to truly explore her own wants and desires and question if a well-heeled life in London is for her.
Katherine Parkinson (Doc Martin, IT Crowd) and Tom Courtenay (45 Years, Quartet) round out the other warm and quirky Society members. The young Kit Connor (The Mercy) has a charm beyond his years – one to watch for sure.
One surprise is that the film was not shot on Guernsey, but in Devon. I was beginning a love affair with a region that wasn’t what I was led to believe. Despite this, the scenery is impressive. The wind-swept Wuthering Heights and Poldark-esque images of the rugged coast are synonymous with south-west of England.
If you haven’t read the 2008 best selling novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, don’t worry. I haven’t and I enjoyed it immensely. Similarly with Suite Francais, the story behind the writing and publishing of Guernsey the novel is a fascinating one.
Take your girlfriends – pack some Kleenex just in case – and make a day of it.
About The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Film
Director: Mike Newell
Producers: Paula Mazur, Mitchell Kaplan, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin
Screenplay: Kevin Hood, Thomas Bezucha, Don Roos
Stars: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton and Tom Courtenay