The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: Hope and Heart


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

When you wait for something, big or small, anticipation builds. Not unlike that childhood wonder of Christmas, and the joy of ripping paper off presents under a tree. This is the case with the new period drama The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; an adaptation that’s as heartwarming as it is jolting.

For Londoners, the war is over, but the aftereffects still plague many. This includes Juliet Ashton (Lily James), a young woman who finds joy in life, but who also suffered a great deal of loss during the war. As she reclaims some sense of normalcy, she receives a letter from a man called Dawsey Adams.

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A resident of the island, Guernsey, once occupied by Germans, Dawsey is a man who’s seen too much with very little joy in the recent years. One of the things that brings he and his neighbors solace and peace is the world of books. A world which introduced him to Juliet when he discovers a book with her name scribbled on the inside page. It’s a discovery that sends Juliet’s life down an unexpected road to friendship, joy and the power of love.

There’s something about this genre that resonates on a deep level with viewers. What it is, I cannot put my finger on. As I sat down on a Sunday evening watching the story unfold (and feeling a tiny bit of confusion), somehow still the story resonates in a way I cannot explain. To be honest, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society disappoints, but in some ways, its flaws strengthen it. SPOILER WARNING: there will be general spoilers, so if you don’t want to read them, skip to the closing paragraph.

To be fair, this film isn’t short on stunning moments that steal our breath, but as I say, it isn’t perfect. In fact, one of the greatest flubs of the script is that it makes Juliet out to be something of a fib. Of course, I don’t mean she goes around lying to everyone, but rather that she isn’t upfront about everything she’s written or her engagement. The plot differs also from the way it’s written (including the fact that the Society doesn’t roll out the welcome mat – and I miss that Juliet already “knows” everyone by her arrival in Guernsey). All of which are complications that receive better treatment in the novel. This story is better than this, as is Juliet. The set up of the plot is also a little dizzying, especially if you’ve not read the novel.

Fortunately, my thoughts don’t end here otherwise all this suggests is that I don’t care for this adaptation. I do. In fact, I suspect I’ll enjoy a second viewing a great deal more than the initial. As a novel, this story has a great deal of heart. Here, there’s more sorrow, and loss of hope whereas the novel understands its characters have been through terrible things, but they’ve come out with hope. They don’t want the past to rule how they step into the future. This is a rare and beautiful thing, and is something I admire about the book. It’s a quality you don’t often discover in books, so when you do, it’s worth clinging to.


Directed by Mike Newell, the master behind Great Expectations (2012), this cast is absolutely brilliant. I adore everyone involved in this project. Lily James’ is gorgeous and memorable as the heroine (I only wish the script gave allowance for her to showcase Juliet’s bright side more); Penelope Wilson brilliant; Katherine Parkinson is a sweetheart as Isola; Matthew Goode is cheeky as Sid; and there there’s Michiel Huisman as Dawsey Adams. He’s kind, bookishly quiet, and perfectly swoon-y as the beloved character. Also, it’s wonderful to see Michiel in something after The Age of Adaline. Jessica Brown-Findlay (Downton Abbey) also stars as Elizabeth, though sadly, we don’t get to know her well.

Complaints aside, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society adaptation is lovely. The costumes are a story in and of themselves, and I love the freedom of the setting. It’s open, beautiful and windswept. It’s in the little add ins that this film shines. Things like Mark’s spot on characterization (I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the subtle, but tender moment of his exit); the end credit voice overs; or the heady anticipation of romance. To be fair, I do appreciate all that the writers have to accomplish to adapt this story (the novel is an epistolary format). I admire them because they have so much space to work with and can imagine anything happens against any backdrop or emotion.

As the credits roll I did have a silly, big grin on my face. The story is altered, yes, but there’s still something magnetic about the tale on film. It’s elegant with a cast that is anything but weak.

Content: There is a “tense” situation or two. There may be a mild innuendo or two. The film is rated TV-14.

Photos: Netflix

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: Hope and Heart. A beautiful #Netflix adaptation with Lily James (Cinderella, #DownotnAbbey) of the classic novel. #WhattoWatch #PeriodDrama Click To Tweet

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I simply cannot decide if I want to see this or not! I adore the novel, and part of me thinks maybe I just need to leave it in my head the way it is.

    Not that it matters at the moment, cuz I don't have Netflix, but I'd like to make up my mind at some point, like if it comes to DVD.

    1. (Apologies for the reply delay, Rachel!! I don’t know WHY I haven’t replied to these comments; I was so excited to chat with everyone about this movie.)

      Did you watch it? The film is certainly different than the book, so if you’d rather keep the book intact…? I’ll certainly buy it on DVD once it arrives, because I appreciate the differences and admire both stories. :)

  2. I knew this movie was coming out on Netflix and heard that people were enjoying it. Maybe I'll get to see it sometime- I'm always in the mood for a good, new period drama!

  3. I also knew the movie would be different, but I really enjoyed how they did it. I recommend the book and movie to everyone. They were delightful in their own ways, but similar enough to like them both.

  4. I've read the book twice and would read it again. I went into this looking forward to "seeing" the story and the island. I loved that it matched what I thought it looked like when reading as did the characters. The story is quite changed, but the overall charm and family of this group of characters could still be felt and I adored the romantic endings of both relationships – like you. I've been meaning to review this and just need to do it. :) Great review!

    1. YAY! Hope you review this one soon, Tressa – and yes, I agree. The main “feeling” of the story is intact. For a story such as this, this is all we can hope for. I loved the relationships and that the romance is more overtly swoon-y too (although of course, I loved the romance in the book too). Someday I plan to re-read the book, too!

      (Apologies for the reply delay!! I don’t know WHY I haven’t replied to these comments; I was so excited to chat with everyone about this movie.)

  5. I've haven't read the book yet. But with all the rave reviews and excitement surrounding it, I plan to read it sooner rather than later. I usually read the book before I watch the movie, but now that I know the hero in this movie is the one from The Age of Adeline I might make an exception. He is completely adorable.

  6. I really need to read this book! I have a copy I found at a used bookstore, but haven't gotten around to it since review books always seem to take precedence. I need to start reading one non-review book for every 2-3 review books I think :)

    1. Fun! Glad you have a copy – you are better than I since I didn’t even own a copy. :D I feel you on not having time because of review copies. I’ve REALLY cut back on review copies (which I probably have a blog post started for), and it’s been SO fun to be able to work in some bookshelf reads, too. :)

      Did you read this one?

      (Apologies for the reply delay!, Heidi I don’t know WHY I haven’t replied to these comments; I was so excited to chat with everyone about this movie.)

  7. I loved this movie! I read the book after I saw the film, and I agree with you I wish that we could have gotten more of the characters not rolling out the welcome wagon as much. This was one of my favortie movies of last year!

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