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“Every now and again, a book comes along that is simple yet effective, readable yet memorable. This is one such delight … It is a uniquely humane vision of inhumanity; one to lift even the most cynical of spirits”
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was published in May of 2009 to popular acclaim, and quickly became a number one New York Times Bestseller. The novel tells the story of a London writer’s relationship with a remarkable book club immediately following Guernsey’s liberation at the end of World War Two entirely through the letters sent between the various characters. This year, on April 20th, the film adaptation is released in cinemas and we are excited to announce that our very own Wheadon's Gin is the official gin of the movie.
Directed by Bafta winner Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and featuring an all-star cast that sees many of the cast of Downton Abbey reunite on the silver screen, we are expecting The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to be a domestic hit across the UK this spring, coinciding wonderfully with the 2018 Channel Islands Heritage Festival which this year has a focus on our island’s occupation and liberation.
Set initially between London and The Bella’s home parish of St Martins on Guernsey’s south coast in 1946 (in the immediate aftermath of World War Two), author Juliet Ashton (played by Lilly James) receives a letter from a Guernsey pig farmer named Dawsey Adams, who has come into ownership of a book that once belonged to her. As their correspondence develops, Juliet discovers that Dawsey is a member of a unique book club and she takes up correspondence with several of its members. Her interest well and truly piqued and in need of inspiration and material for her next book, she travels to Guernsey to meet them and find out more, and her life changes forever.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a story that celebrates books and the people who love them; how books can be a source of refuge, solace and community during the hardest of times, and how they can provide a common bond between the most unlikely of neighbours.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was American author Mary Ann Shaffer’s first and only novel. Having worked as an editor, librarian and in bookshops, the story was her response to fellow members of her literary club’s calls for her to write a novel herself. Having visited London in 1976 to research another idea for a novel, Mary Ann learnt of the Channel Islands and, on a whim, flew to Guernsey for a short visit. On the afternoon of her return flight thick mist blanketed the island and he flight was delayed. Whiling away several hours in the airport, she purchased several history books about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands during World War Two and, having no prior knowledge of the occupation, became fascinated by the experiences of islanders during those difficult years. Upon her return home to West Virginia, this formed the basis for her new novel. Mary Ann fell ill shortly before completing her book. She asked her niece, Annie Burrows (a published author herself) to take her book through the editing process prior to publication. Sadly, Mary Ann passed away shortly afterwards in February 2008 before her novel was published, and so never saw the huge success that it became.
“The membership of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society increases each time the book is read and enjoyed. The wonderful thing about books–and the thing that made them such a refuge for the islanders during the Occupation–is that they take you out of your time and place and transport you, not just into the world of the story, but into the world of your fellow-readers, who have stories of their own.”
Annie Barrows, September 2008
Reading a book whilst visiting the location in which it is set undoubtedly adds an extra dimension to both the story and the holiday. Enjoying the official gin of the movie adaptation whilst reading the book on holiday can only be described as a wonderful indulgence, and one that we’d strongly encourage! This spring, fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society can enjoy an additional level of immersion whilst visiting Guernsey as the whole island remembers the period of our history in which the story is set; there are numerous special events planned at Guernsey’s museum and historic sites as well as an Occupation themed dinner here at the Bella Luce. If you’re visiting us having already (or only just recently) read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you can still get into the spirit of things by borrowing one of the antique leather-bound classics from the shelves in the Bella’s bar area, pulling up an armchair by the open fire, and losing yourself in some literature for an afternoon after a morning walk along the south coast cliffs. And of course, the Bella’s bar staff can keep you well supplied with Wheadon’s and tonics should the inclination take you!
All The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society images courtesy and copyright of STUDIOCANAL S.A.S.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be in cinemas April 20th.