In July of last year I read one of the books that had been on my TBR for quite awhile, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Well, I actually listened to the narration and really loved the story. Netflix just released the movie adaptation of this book and I got a chance to watch it last night with my husband. Did I like it as much as the book? I didn’t, however it was a very good adaptation and I was able to get caught up in the story without overthinking the few changes they had made to make it fit in an hour and a half.
When I re-read my review this morning I was surprisingly pleased that I decently expressed my overwhelming feelings for the novel at that time and wanted to include that review in this post and then give my thoughts on the movie.
Review of the BOOK:
I listened to this audio book and was immediately immersed in all of these characters individual stories. Told through a series of letters, we really get a feel for the era, post World War II, and the city of London. The inhabitants of that city struggling to begin their lives again after living through the atrocities of war. Juliet, who the novel revolves around, is a writer and had a very successful column in the paper under a pen name, about a soldier at the front. As she begins her life after the war, she is struggling to find a subject to write about when she receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands, off the coast of England. This letter starts a pen pal relationship with him and his impromptu book club named the Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society and ultimately an idea for a novel.
We are voyeurs of Juliet’s life hearing her inner thoughts and dreams. The excitement of being courted by a wealthy man vs the more simple life she leads on Guernsey and the happiness she finds as a surrogate mother to a young girl whose mother was taken away by the Germans to a concentration camp.
Through letters, we hear these characters individual thoughts and stories about living on an island occupied by the Germans. Their stories were touching, funny and very personal, and for a person who lives in a world full of emails, I really felt the loss of letter writing in our generation. Through letters, friendships were made, foundations for relationships were laid and an unforgettable story ripe with emotion was told.
The audio book was read by a whole cast and they really gave me the flavor of living in Europe during this time in our history. It was an unforgettable experience.
Guernsey MOVIE Notes:
It would be hard to pack in all of the details of this book into a 90 minute movie but I thought there were a few glossed over points at the beginning that I missed and thought further explanation was needed. I’ll admit I did pause the movie and explain those points to my husband. He was patient and not too annoyed!
As the movie starts, we see Juliet as an author at a book signing answering a couple of questions about her book that had become popular during the war as a series of articles from a man at the front. The book, of course goes into more detail about that novel and through those details really gives you a feeling for London during the war that was a little lacking in this movie. The other part of this novel that I felt was glossed over a bit was her relationship with Mark, the rich American. Their few scenes together at parties and bars dancing does give a rather stark contrast to the lives of the people on Guernsey and in particular Dawsey Adams, the farmer who wrote to her and started a pen pal relationship between she and the islanders. The depth of she and Mark’s relationship in the book made that contrast even more pointed and gave the choice she made at the end of the novel more impact.
I really like how the movie portrayed Juliet when she landed on Guernsey and started to sift through the inhabitants experiences and in particular what happened to Elizabeth McKenna, the absentee mother of young Kit. Lily James, who plays our lead, Juliet was magnificent. Her emotions played on her every expression and I thought she was perfectly cast. Her two love interests were also well cast. The American Mark, played by Glen Powell had that Jimmy Stewart boy next door good looks. Michiel Huisman, who played Dawsey Adams is worth sitting in front of the tube for 90 minutes with still photo’s rolling across the screen and no sound. The setting, costumes, and cast really made for a beautiful movie and I found myself wishing for a pastoral vacation with fabulous clothing minus the war.
Overall, I think leaving out those few details didn’t faze my husband or probably any other movie viewer who had never read the book. I do think those details added a sense of mood to the book that was a little lacking in the movie, but in the end I really liked the movie anyway despite that lack! I am a sucker for a good historical movie and this one hit all my hot buttons.