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Film / The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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"A real writer, come to see us!"

"Do you think it's possible for us to already belong to someone before we've met them?"

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a 2018 romantic comedy-drama film based on the 2008 novel of the same name. It was directed by Mike Newell and stars Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Tom Courtenay, and Penelope Wilton.

It is 1946. Juliet Ashton (James) is an up-and-coming London writer fresh off the success of her new book and struggling to cope with the loss of her parents in the war. She receives a letter from Dawsey Adams (Huisman), a farmer from Guernsey, who introduces himself as part of the "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and asks for her help in locating a book. From this, they strike up a correspondence. Juliet is intrigued by the formation of the Society and since she has to write an article about the benefits of reading, decides to pay them a visit. She is charmed by Guernsey and the titular book club's other members — elderly postman Eben (Courtenay), lonely romantic Isola (Parkinson), and stern but motherly Amelia (Wilton) — but eventually becomes curious about the whereabouts of the last founding member, Elizabeth (Brown Findlay).

A British-French production, the film was released in the United Kingdom in April 2018 and in France in June 2018. Netflix released the film in other international areas in August of the same year.


  • The '40s: Set in 1946, just after the end of World War II. The characters are still slowly returning to normalcy after the war.
  • Actor Allusion: Elizabeth (Brown Findlay) being treated like a daughter by Amelia (Wilton) when their actresses once played cousins in Downton Abbey — especially since they bond over Amelia's daughter/Elizabeth's best friend dying in childbirth; on that show they bonded because were both nurses and Brown Findlay's own character dies in childbirth, whilst Wilton's character's son dies just as his child is born. Also, Lily James' character fills the void left by Elizabeth, just like how Lady Rose MacClare Aldridge was a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the spot left by Brown Findlay.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the novel, Juliet lost her parents when she was twelve, and by the time of the present day story has been able to process their passing after nearly twenty years. In the film, she lost them suddenly during the war, and the loss is still very fresh on her mind.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Remy Giraud is Adapted Out, and Elizabeth's fate is instead found out by Mark via military connections.
  • Adaptational Heroism: With Mark, Juliet's Disposable Fiancé. In the novel, Mark is much more smarmy and shady. Juliet actually turns him down when he proposes (more than once), already having a feeling they're not right for each other, and he's shown to be a lot more controlling and egotistic underneath his grand romantic gestures.
    • In fact, Juliet recounts in her letter that he actually caused a scene after she turned him down - enough to make her cry, which in turn makes him remorseful, though Juliet wisely maintains her rejection as she notes she doesn't think it's healthy to be with someone who only calms down and apologizes after she's bursts into tears (instead of, y'know, just not making a scene in the first place.) It's commented upon by Sidney in the novel that Mark isn't actually in love with Juliet, he just wants to have a popular writer who happens to be a beautiful woman as a prop beside him to mingle in London high society. He's also a publishing competitor, so there's that.
    • In the film, Mark has none of those shady, toxic characteristics and is a lot more pleasant. Juliet actually accepts his proposal his gusto early on in the film. Instead of a new money publisher from America who is condescending about Juliet's time in Guernsey, he's in the American military and actually uses his connections to help Juliet discover Elizabeth's whereabouts. He's not happy about Juliet being away for so long, but he is accepting enough. Though in both the film and the novel he makes a point of arriving in Guernsey and interrupting Juliet's trip, making it known to everyone (particularly Dawsey) that he's Juliet's fiancé, essentially staking his claim, it's more understandable with this film's version of Mark. When she breaks off their engagement in the end, the reasoning amounts more to their differing lifestyles than Mark's actual character and she even feels a bit guilty about it. A break up that Mark takes remarkably well after an initial but understandable upset response, even taking a moment to give Juliet a conciliatory kiss on the head before he leaves to show no hard feelings.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Downplayed. While still a sympathetic and loving mother figure (as she was in the novel), Amelia is considerably colder to Juliet in this version upon their introduction, and it takes a lot more for her to open up about Elizabeth's circumstances.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Kit and Juliet get along pretty much right off the bat, while in the novel Kit initially saw Juliet as an intrusion with all the attention she was getting from Kit's foster family.
  • Adapted Out: The film cuts Remy Giraud and her subplot. There is a small reference to her in Juliet's notes when Juliet finds the flowers she pressed into the notebook, but that's it. The society in the original novel also had several more members (including a few more who were present during the night of the roast pig dinner), but they were cut out for the sake of focusing on the more structured narrative of the film.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: A soberingly downplayed version with Eli, Eben's grandson. Even when he was only seven, he was aware of the threat that the Germans posed, and at that age he evacuated home with many of the island's kids to the mainland for several years. Now that he's back, the Society has fully taken him under their wing so that he can catch up on his education.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dawsey is an earnest, hardworking man who usually keeps to himself, but as shown in a flashback, he will not take insults thrown at his friends, as Eddie Meares found out after informing on Elizabeth to the Germans and collecting the spoils for his dirty work.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Juliet and Dawsey have a big, sweeping kiss at the end of the film.
  • Color Motif: Juliet is blue - when she is most herself, or when she is writing, she is in blue. When she is closest to Dawsey, he wears his blue sweater. Sydney and upper class London are yellow - her yellow dress, his yellow office. Guernsey is mostly brown or green. Mark and his rose bouquets are red. The Germans, of course, are grey.
  • Death by Childbirth: Amelia's daughter died giving birth - as did her baby. Since then Elizabeth has been like a Like A Daughter to her.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Although Juliet cares about Mark, she feels stifled by London high society and eventually leaves him and moves back to Guernsey.
  • Enormous Engagement Ring: The engagement ring Juliet gets from Mark is obviously large and conspicuous, with many stones adorning it. Juliet feels embarrassed wearing it around rural Guernsey, and Isola instantly notes that Mark is rich upon seeing it. Juliet and Dawsey's rings, on the other hand, are far simpler.
  • Family of Choice: The Literary Club itself. Explicit when it comes to raising Kit - both of her parents are dead, if she has living grandparents they don't know of her. But she has "adoptive" parents in Dawesey and eventually Juliet, grandparents in Julia and Eben, an aunt in Isola and a brother in Eli. It's even lampshaded by Juliet in her story.
  • Flower Motifs: Mark's romance with Juliet is embodied by the expensive rose bouquets he sends her; Dawsey's, on the other hand, is embodied by countryside wildflowers.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Juliet leaves Guernsey with her fiance Mark, having experienced nothing beyond some romantic tension with Dawsey. There is no indication of further contact between them beyond a letter to the society until they meet at the dock at the end, where Juliet proposes to Dawsey. They're shown married shortly afterward.
  • Friend to All Children: Elizabeth, who comforted Eben's grandson Eli when the latter was being evacuated before the German occupation, was arrested when trying to rescue a young Polish slave, and eventually took a beating for a girl at a concentration camp, leading directly to her death.
  • From New York to Nowhere: People wonder what on Earth up-and-coming London author Juliet is doing in the rural Guernsey. She permanently moves there to live with Kit and Dawsey at the end.
  • Give Away the Bride: Juliet asks Sidney to give her away at her upcoming marriage to Mark, as her own parents are dead.
  • Holier Than Thou: Charlotte Stimples, who stands in for Adelaide Addison from the novel. Juliet calls her out for taking the Bible's messages of love and using it to judge other people and put them down.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Elizabeth is like a daughter to Amelia. This relationship grew out of Elizabeth's sisterlike friendship with Amelia's daughter Jane, and they comforted each other when Jane died in childbirth.
  • Loon with a Heart of Gold: Isola is basically the local witch as someone who makes questionably legal tonics for a living and believes in concepts like reincarnation and soulmates. She's clearly a woman who's used to living on her own, but she nonetheless welcomes Juliet with open arms and is overall a very empathetic soul.
  • Meaningful Name: "Isola" means "island" and is two letters away from "isolate", fitting for a woman who lives by herself.
  • Meet Cute: Juliet and Dawsey's first face-to-face meeting at a hotel construction site, which nearly results in Juliet getting hit by slabs of falling slate. Twice.
  • Missed Him by That Much: In the end, subverted. Juliet gets on a boat to Guernsey just before Dawsey gets off it, the two of them barely missing each least until Juliet spots him from the deck and runs to him.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Juliet is a rising star on the London literary scene and is now being contracted to write an article on the benefits of reading. This interest is what draws her to the Society in the first place, since she's interested in how literature helped them get through the war.
  • My Greatest Failure: Dawsey considers letting Elizabeth go the night she was arrested his own personal failing.
  • Nice Girl: Juliet is a very charming, considerate and humble person who wins over others easily.
  • Parental Substitute: Dawsey is raising Elizabeth's daughter Kit in her absence; Kit even calls him "Daddy". It is implied that this continues into the epilogue, with Juliet now helping raise her alongside him.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Juliet and Sidney, her publisher and best and oldest friend. Although Juliet has two love interests throughout the film, Sidney is just as large a presence in her life as either of them. She's even asked him to give her away at her wedding.
  • Race for Your Love: Mentioned when Dawsey drops everything to find Juliet after receiving her letter and the manuscript; Eben encourages him to run and make sure that she doesn't marry Mark. Dawsey, however, understands that there's no wedding to stop.
  • Returning the Wedding Ring: Juliet returns Mark's ring to end her engagement to him.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Mark (polished military man) is the Rich Suitor to Dawsey (rural farmer)'s Poor Suitor.
  • Scenery Porn: The sweeping countrysides of Guernsey are given much love by the cinematography.
  • Semper Fi: Mark is a Marine stationed at the U.S. Embassy in London.
  • Small Reference Pools: Charles Lamb isn't an author who's commonly taught in most English-speaking schools, but the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens certainly are, and their works are prominently quoted throughout the film.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Elizabeth and Christian, a German military doctor. He died before Elizabeth even told him that she was pregnant with their daughter Kit.
  • Straight Gay: Sidney, as he was in the novel.
  • Supreme Chef: Eben's scones are thankfully much better tasting than the titular pie.
  • Tastes Like Feet: The potato peel pie itself, made by Eben Ramsey with no butter or flour due to the severe food shortage during the occupation. It's only made with potato peelings and potato for filling, and Juliet visibly gags at her first taste of it. Eben even says when Juliet first tastes it, that it's "the worst".
  • Tragic Keepsake: Juliet's father was killed in the war, and she remembers him via his paperweight. Elizabeth's father's medal from WWI turns into one - not necessarily of him, but of her.
  • Trauma Button: Looking at new places to live causes Juliet to flash back to her parents' bombed apartment; Sidney has to draw her out of it.
  • Voiceover Letter: The letter Juliet writes the Society at the end switches back and forth from Dawsey reading it out loud to a voiceover from Juliet.