The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

It's really fascinating to read reviews after one has seen a film. In this case they reflect the chasm that exists between the professional critics and an average audience. Quoting Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian's film critic: "Populated by Downtown Abbey graduates, this glutinous postwar rom-dram is a load of cobblers." But set against that is the 81% audience satisfaction on Rotten Tomatoes, and a packed audience at our cinema when we saw it on Wednesday afternoon, quite a rare occurrence I assure you. Its problem, if it has one, is that it's a bit twee. But compared to some of the other stuff reaching the cinemas lately, it was quite a delight to watch.

Set in Guernsey immediately after the war, with flashbacks into the time of occupation, it is based around the unlikely sounding Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The society was started in a moment of crisis, when a group of residents were stopped by Germans during the evening curfew, and needed to come up with a reason for being out. The Potato Peel Pie aspect comes from the fact the islanders were close to starving, the said dish being one of their efforts to feed themselves.

Meanwhile, in London, the author Juliet Ashton receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, one of the society members. He saw her name and former address inside the cover of a secondhand book, and writes to her asking if she could find and send him a book. This starts a correspondence that intrigues Juliet, who convinces her publisher that she should go to Guernsey to learn more about this group of people, with a view to writing an article for The Times. However, when she gets there she finds that their story is closely guarded, and an almost open hostility to the idea of publishing it.

Over time she wins their trust, and we observe a chemistry between her and Dawsey. One member of the group, Elizabeth, is no longer there, having been taken to Germany during the occupation. A mystery slowly unravels concerning Kit, a young girl who refers to Dawsey as her father, but whose story is far more complicated, involving Elizabeth and a German officer. As Juliet's feelings for Dawsey grow she has to confront the complication that immediately before leaving for Guernsey, her boyfriend, and American officer, proposed marriage with a very large engagement ring.

And so the scene is set for a conflict of emotions, as the back story of the members of the Society is gradually revealed. As for the ending, you'll probably get there before the film does, but what's wrong if once in a while everybody ends up happy.

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