The Guernsey Literary

and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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Character Analysis

In The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the main character, Juliet Ashton, is a journalist who became an author when her newspaper column was published into a book called Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War. Juliet is thirty three years old and her description oaf herself is as follows, "In a good mood, I call my hair Chestnut with Gold Glints. In a bad mood, I call it mousy brown. My naturally curly hair is a curse. My eyes are hazel. While I am naturally slender, I am not tall enough to suit me." (118)


Juliet is a very independent person who does not want to have to rely on a man, or anyone else. Juliet is also very caring, motherly, and loyal to the people that she loves, which is shown when she takes care of and adopts Kit. For example, Juliet says to Mark, "I will never marry someone who doesn't love Kit". (213) This shows that she doesn't need a man who doesn't treat her well in her life, but also shows her motherly characteristics.


This situation also involves a major conflict in the novel. This conflict includes Juliet and Mark Reynolds. Mark is an American publisher who loved Juliet and even asked her to marry him. Mark did not care much about what Juliet wanted, even though he wanted to be with her. Because Juliet is a very independent person, she knows that things would not work out with Mark. "Mark did his best to stop me, but I resisted him mushily, right to the bitter end." (163) Eventually, she called it quits when he told her to leave Kit.


Although Juliet is very intelligent, she sometimes can not see the more obvious things in her life. Throughout her time in Guernsey, it is quite clear that her and Dawsey have a connection, but she doesn't realize it until Sidney, her publisher and one of her best friends, points this out to her. "All that errant thought means is that you're in love with Dawsey yourself. Surprised? I'm not," (256) he writes to her. She then realizes that she does love Dawsey, and once she finds out that the feeling is mutual, she takes action.

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Development

Setting: In this book, the setting is crucial to the plot. The story is set in London, England and Guernsey, an island in the English Channel. The year is 1946, just after World War II. The setting helps advance the plot by showing how the war affected the characters. The main consequence of the war is the creation of the Guernsey Literary Society. A majority of the characters would not have known each other if it wasn't for the Germans that occupied the island of Guernsey. Elizabeth McKenna, a former member of the society, made up the society as an excuse to why they were out so late. In reality they were having a pig dinner which was not allowed. "Then Elizabeth drew in her breath and stepped forward….You never heard such lies. How sorry she was that we had broken curfew. How we had been attending a meeting of the Guernsey Literary Society…" (29) The Setting also affected the plot because Juliet's column turned novel was about the wartime. Juliet would never have become such a successful author if it wasn't for her experiences during the war. "Did I tell you I am a writer? I wrote a weekly column for the Spectator during the war, and Stephens & Stark publishers collected them together into single volume and published them under the title Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War." (31)


Characterization: The characterization in this book was very unique and important. The author introduced us to the characters through letters to and from them. This shows the way they speak and their relationships to one another by showing what they share in secret knowing no one else will read the letter. Some of the things written in letters, the characters would not say aloud or to other people. For example, when Juliet throws a teapot at Gilly, Sidney says, "I'm only sorry that the tea wasn't hotter and you didn't aim lower." (21) Another example is when Sidney confides in Isola and she writes to him that she didn't give away his secret, "You should have seen how I didn't utter a word when Amelia said she thought you and Juliet were going to marry. I even nodded and slitted my eyes like I knew something they didn't, to throw them off the scent." (198) The fact that the characters write persona letters to each other also allows he reader to find out what the character thinks of themselves. Toward the beginning of the book, when Isola asks Juliet to describe herself, she shows that she can critique herself and doesn't by any means think that she is perfect. "It wasn't a windy day; my hair always looks that way. Naturally curly hair is a curse, and don't let anyone ever tell you different." (118)

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Evaluation

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society was an enjoyable book for me to read. This book was not written like many others, it was strictly written in letters from one character to another which shows exactly what the characters are thinking. I enjoyed reading something in a different formant than what I am used to. I recommend this book for this reason because it was a change to read personal letters rather than reading pages of paragraphs. I enjoyed this because I was able to be a little bit nosy and see what the characters told their friends behind other characters backs, which was interesting and different for me. Another reason I enjoyed this book was because of Juliet's character. Juliet was very different then the stereotypical female at this time period. Juliet's could've had a wonderful, fancy life with Mark, but chose a more simple life on Guernsey with Dawsey and Kit. Juliet's refreshing personality made this book all the more enjoyable for me to read and relate to.