The Guernsey Literary and potato Peel Pie Society
Streaming on Netflix
Metadata: 2018 | TV-14 | 2h 3m
Genre: Drama, Romance, WWII-era historical fiction
Why I watched: I started reading the book this movie is based on at the recommendation of my mom a while back and always meant to finish. (I liked it a lot; the only reason I didn't finish at the time is that I was in grad school and had tons of other reading to do. Now I'm inspired to give it another try!)
You might also like: Life is Beautiful (1997), a classic movie about WWII, is streaming on Netflix. You'll ugly cry, it's true, but sometimes that's just what the soul needs.
Okay, okay, I guess I'm on a British historical drama kick, what with Poldark last week, and Guernsey this week. But I'm not sorry about it! There are so many good things streaming in that category right now, and this week's recommendation is no exception. Netflix's brand new The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a quietly beautiful tale of heartbreak, bravery, and resistance, set in 1946 England, tracking back and forth between London and the island of Guernsey, located just off the coast of Normandy, France. The movie should earn your view simply for having the most intriguing name, but it's no mere gimmick: the story is equally interesting and special.
Like Poldark's splendid Eleanor Tomlinson (whom, despite utterly stealing the show and my heart, I failed to mention specifically in my letter), Lily James is the glimmering light at the center of Guernsey. Her character, Juliet Ashton, is a successful young author living in post-war London. One day, in the midst of her struggle to settle on her next writing project, Juliet receives a letter in the mail. Mr. Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), a pig farmer-turned-potato farmer-turned-construction worker who lives in Guernsey, serendipitously acquired a copy of Charles Lamb's book Essays of Elia that had once belonged to Juliet. They strike up a correspondence, and before long Juliet is boarding a ship to the island. She feels powerfully drawn to visit the book club to which Dawsey belongs: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You'll have to watch the movie—or read the epistolary novel on which the movie is based—to find out how the society got its name.
I loved the movie for Lily James's quiet, thoughtful performance (all the more delicious since it followed her energetic, excellent performance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). I loved it for the beautiful period costumes. I loved it for the scenery, because friends, Guernsey is breathtakingly picturesque (the movie was actually filmed in Cornwall, but still). And I loved it for the unique story, especially its depiction of an untraditional family, drawn together not by blood, but by love and literature. "Without knowing it," Juliet writes to the society when she's back on the mainland, "I feel I've been searching for the old familiar faces . . . for many years now, and can't quite account for why I recognize these as yours, but I do. Do you suppose it's possible for us to already belong to someone before we've met them? If so, I belong to you, or you to me, or me simply to the spirit I found among you in Guernsey. That is as good a definition of family as any I know."
This is an unconventional love story for the ages, friends. I very much hope you'll enjoy.
Happy streaming, Grace