The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a mouthful. It’s also a damn good movie. The Netflix original came out on August 7th, and has been the talk of the town ever since. It’s a quaint period piece about an author living in post World War II England. Through a series of coincidences and letters, she discovers a remarkable group of people who formed a book club to make it through the war on the Nazi-occupied English Isle of Guernsey.
Lily James (Downton Abbey, Baby Driver) stars as Juliet Ashton, our lovely author. This is her second big hit this summer after the blockbuster event, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. She doesn’t sing in this one, but she is thoroughly charming, and reminiscent of a young Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter, Howards End). Aside from finding herself in a love triangle between her American fiance back in London and the handsome Dawsey (Michiel Huisman), who she meets on the island, she also finds friends, a mystery, and a burning desire to tell the story of these people. She has her own losses from the war, and she finally finds a new home on this island, and a new family with these people. This combination of wit, feeling, and ambition is what makes our heroine so captivating, and James plays it perfectly.
It’s really the little details that make this film. The mention of the first fresh paint being put up after the war. Juliet hiding her fancy new engagement ring, for fear of boasting it in front of people who have nothing. The snow-globe that we see Juliet grab in a flashback right after her house is blown away in the Blitz, and the out best friend and publisher, Sidney (Matthew William Goode), who pulls her back from the edge. The late night talks Juliet has with new friend from Guernsey, Isola (Katherine Parkinson). The sound of a type-writer, versus silence.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is many things. It is a period piece, and a romance the likes of which Austen might have written. It’s also about a country trying to recover and find itself following a war. In that comes hope, which is ultimately what this story is really about. How books and good company can give us that, even in the darkest of times. Netflix scores with its third big hit of the summer, after rom-coms Set It Up and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s more than niche than either of those, but it’s well worth the watch.