The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by

Ann Shaffer

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Part 1: 12 Feb, 1946 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In a letter to Sophie, Juliet tells her about Mark Reynolds. He invited her to Claridge's and she spent three days worrying about her hair. Fortunately, Juliet's neighbor was able to help her with an elegant updo. Mark himself is dazzling: he's tall, elegant, and appears accustomed to ordering people around, but not in a cruel way. They sat in a private alcove and as soon as the waiters disappeared, Juliet asked him why he sent the flowers with no note. Mark explained that he wanted to make Juliet interested and knew that if he'd written her directly and invited her out, she would've refused. They talked about Victorian literature. Juliet says that there's nothing wrong with Mark: he's not married and he's not a Nazi. They're going dancing tomorrow.
Though Juliet's comment about Mark not being a Nazi is intended to be somewhat sarcastic, it's also worth keeping in mind that not being a Nazi is a very low bar for a romantic interest—there are plenty of people who aren't Nazis who are still cruel and unkind. However, Juliet also recognizes that Mark is an attractive partner because he can offer her a life of security that she hasn't found elsewhere and that she can't guarantee for herself as a single woman, even if she is working.
Themes
War, Hunger, and Humanity Theme Icon
Women, Marriage, and Work Theme Icon
Lady Bella Taunton writes to Amelia. She says that Juliet's only fault is that she has no common sense. The two of them were Fire Wardens during the Blitz, which meant that they sat on rooftops at night and watched for incendiary bombs. Bella learned that Juliet's parents were farmers and her mother ran a bookshop until they were killed in a car accident. Juliet was sent to live with her great-uncle, ran away twice, and finally, he sent her to boarding school. Instead of going to college afterwards, Juliet lived in a studio with Sophie Stark, worked in bookshops, and wrote a biography on a Brontë sister.
Bella's story reveals that Juliet's birth family hasn't been around to care for her for a number of years—instead, she's had to rely on extended family members like her great-uncle and friends like the Stark family. This suggests that Juliet is likely already aware that a person doesn't need to be related by blood to provide care and support like a family member would, especially given her close relationship with Sophie's family.
Themes
Family, Parenting, and Legitimacy Theme Icon
During the war, Juliet's "light, frivolous" writing attracted a following and allowed Juliet to purchase a flat in Chelsea, where irresponsible people live. Then, Bella explains that one night in 1941, she and Juliet were present when a bomb dropped on a library. Juliet left her post and tried to rescue books—exactly what she wasn't supposed to do. Juliet was banned from serving as a Fire Warden. This did give Juliet the time to write the Izzy Bickerstaff columns, which made Bella cancel her subscription to the paper that ran them due to how tasteless they were. Bella does say that despite Juliet's many faults, she is honest.
Bella's tone suggests that unlike Juliet, she sees no value in chosen family or friends, and isn't sold on the idea that humor can help people get through the war. Her letter indicates that she love rules and regulations, which means she likely doesn't believe that relationships not recognized by the state are "real."
Themes
Literature and Connection Theme Icon
Family, Parenting, and Legitimacy Theme Icon
War, Hunger, and Humanity Theme Icon