Romance Revitalized: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
A new month means a new blog topic here at Above The Line, and one of our recent observations is just how many new romance movies are finding success. Interestingly enough, the home for a lot of these films is our favorite streaming service, Netflix. While a lot of these new releases are indeed rom coms, we’re going to start by looking at the one that is not. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a historical drama/romance set after World War II. Based on a novel of the same name, it was directed by Mike Newell and adapted by Kevin Hood, Don Roos, and Tom Bezucha. It stars Cinderella’s Lily James as Juliet Ashton and Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman as Dawsey Adams. The supporting cast also includes Jessica Brown Findlay, Penelope Wilton, Glen Powell, Matthew Goode and Katherine Parkinson.
The film begins on the island of Guernsey during World War II. A group of people are almost apprehended by Nazis until they hurriedly concoct a story about being a part of a book club, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It then jumps to 1946 where author Juliet Ashton is encouraged to write something she is not enthused about and engage on a book tour. Her plans are altered, though, when she receives a letter asking for help from Dawsey Adams in locating a certain book by Charles Lamb. As she begins to correspond with Dawsey more, she becomes fascinated with the Guernsey literary group, their beginnings, and how books became so dear to them during the Nazi occupation. The letters lead her to make a trip to Guernsey herself, where circumstances become even more complicated as she learns more about the group.
So, while it’s not hard to categorize this movie as a period romance, it really is so much more. Once Juliet arrives in Guernsey, she is faced with a bit of a mystery, which she wholeheartedly embraces. She employs a bit of investigative journalism during the story, and honestly, this story relies heavily on needing answers to some of the questions and mysteries put forth. Perhaps more than anything, though, this film is a love letter to the written word. This whole literary society connects over stories and words, and they go to great lengths during the occupation to retrieve books to read. That love for books continues into Juliet’s personal story, and it truly is a lovely theme to have featured.
In addition to the story overall, this film contains some beautiful characters that are accented by excellent performances. Also, I’m not just saying that because of the little Downton Abbey reunion we have going on here. Lily James is enchanting as the curious writer, Juliet, and she captures all of the highs and lows of Juliet’s story. Michiel Huisman gives an understated performance as Dawsey with his sad eyes and immense love for Kit. Penelope Wilton gave me chills as Amelia, where she perfectly captures the despair of losing people you love, and it was nice to see Jessica Brown Findlay once again play this good-hearted individual with a knack of making the lives of those around her better. These characters make you care about the story, and quite honestly, they leave you wanting more of their story.
Overall, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a credit to Netflix but also to the romantic drama genre. The story has a lot more depth than just a simple love story, and to be fair, there is more than one love story presented in this movie. It also gives a rather honest look at the Nazi occupation during World War II and how it changed the daily lives of many. This film is utterly charming and for anyone who enjoys a period piece, I would consider this to be a must watch. Also, it’s easily accessible on Netflix, so feel free to literally go watch The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society right now.
So, have you watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? What were your thoughts?
Feel free to share them in the comments, and be on the lookout next Friday as we look at another movie revitalizing the genre.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.