THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
By Chris Dugopolski
This is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year and you won’t find it in a movie theater, though it did play in theaters in England. It is on Netflix. It is based upon the book of the same name by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
The Channel Islands were occupied by the Nazis during World War II and this is a story about the lives of some of the residents of the Island of Guernsey. Guernsey is closer to France than to England and hence the reason it was occupied by the Nazis. Juliet Aston, portrayed by Lily James is an author living in London shortly after the war, and considering a piece for the London Times about readers of books. She receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, played by Michiel Huisman asking if she could find a relatively obscure book for their book club.
Juliet is intrigued by the request and upon an exchange of a few more letters she travels to Guernsey to see if she has found some subjects for her piece. The name of the book club derives from the fact that when they met during the occupation, the only readily available food was the potato and so the pie for the meetings had no flour, no eggs, no fruit, no custard, no sugar, just potatoes including the peel.
What she finds is more than just the subject for her piece on readers, she finds a compelling story of their survival during the war years. The movie easily moves from Juliet’s day to day sojourn on the island back to the time of the occupation. Other members of the cast include Sidney Stark (Michael Goode), her London editor, Eben (Tom Courtenay) who invented the dish, Isola (Katherine Parkinson), Amelia (Penelope Wilton, and Elizabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay) who was taken by the Nazis and has not returned. With the help of her American fiancé, Juliet searches for the whereabouts of Elizabeth and learns about the mystery surrounding her disappearance.
The brilliant screenplay was written by Don Ross, Kevin Hood and Thomas Bezucha based on the novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows.
The movie is directed by Mark Newell who also directed “4 Weddings and a Funeral,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” and “Donnie Brasco,” just to name a few of the many films he has directed.