After reading the book, my mom (who is also reading it) and I sat down an watched this movie on Friday and we both loved it! Taking as epistolary novel and condensing it into a fluid film can be a task, but it was beautifully pulled off. Although there were changes with characters (Sophie and several several other members were left out), the movie still managed to tell the same wonderful and emotional story of Guernsey and Juliet's journey of life and love among the most unlikely of friends.
~ ~ ~
During the Nazi occupation of Guernsey (an island on the British Channel) a group of friends are heading home long after the stated curfew. Their reason for being out so late is because they were having a dinner party with stolen goods; an act that could earn them a prison sentence. When they are apprehended by the police and questioned about their whereabouts, young Elizabeth McKenna quickly states that they were at their book club and insists that it's a completely legal activity for the preservation of culture (at least German culture). Little did anyone know that Elizabeth and this little book club were going to change life on Guernsey and across the sea.
In 1946, up and coming author, Juliet Ashton is beginning to enjoy the success of her hard work when her WWII newspaper articles are published into book form. Like the rest of the western world, Juliet is relieved that the war is over and that she is able to enjoy life, attend parties, fall in love and create a professional writing career. However, Juliet still finds herself caught in flashbacks of the London bombings and holding onto the deaths of her own parents, both of which cause her to have severe writer's block.
Then an unexpected letter comes from Dawsey Adams, a young pig farmer from Guernsey, inquiring after a book that he had found with Juliet's name in it. Dawsey goes on to explain about how he is a member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which immediately piques Juliet's interest. She writes back to him and asks about the society, its unusual name and it's equally unusual creation on Guernsey Island.
Juliet believes that she has come across something interesting, intriguing and even novel worthy and doesn't waste time in booking passage to Guernsey Island, much to the dismay of her American boyfriend Mark Reynolds. Soon, Juliet becomes associated with society members.
Post office manager, Eben Ramsey and his grandson Eli, who was evacuated days before the invasion.
Isola Pribby, a free spirited herbalist, who loves all things regarding the Bronte sisters.
Strong willed matriarch, Amelia Maugery.
And Dawsey Adams himself, who turns out to be much more than Juliet expected. The feeling is mutual with him as well.
The only person not present is the society's creator Elizabeth who is off the island, but no one will tell Juliet why. In spite of Elizabeth's absence, Juliet falls in love with the society and most of them are quite taken with her. However, the secrecy of Elizabeth's absence keeps Juliet on the island longer than she expected. As Juliet begins to delve deeper and deeper into the mystery of Elizabeth McKenna and the more she discovers, the more Juliet realizes than she was meant to come to Guernsey and possibly even meant to stay.
~ ~ ~
There was also one particular line in the film I was glad they put in. Juliet is dealing with the self righteous and overly religious Charlotte Stimple, with whom she is staying with on Guernsey. Charlotte doesn't hide her disdain for the society, especially Elizabeth and is forever quoting Bible verses believing herself to be justified with everything she says. After Juliet catches Charlotte going through her things, she grabs Charlotte's Bible and says, "Here is a book filled with love! And you overlook it in favor of judgement and petty meanness!" A simple, but powerful truth.
To sum it all up, this was a beautiful movie! Heartbreaking, but hopeful, comedic and warm hearted and an extraordinary view into the harshness of the Nazi occupation and how people on both sides fell victim to Hitler's regime. Juliet was so lost and so alone even though she was gaining recognition as a writer and achieving what she believed to be her ideal dreams. And yet it took one letter, one trip, one joyful night and one courageous young women to make Juliet realize that her dream wasn't fame or money, but rather simply a home.