The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Ann Shaffer

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

Juliet writes to Sophie, lamenting that Sidney is currently refusing to extend the book tour to Scotland. She says she'd love to visit and asks if Sophie's husband, Alexander, would allow her to sleep on their couch for a while. Juliet admits that despite the excitement she should feel about getting to promote her book, she's melancholy and gloomy because England is so broken after the war. She attributes this sense to an awful dinner party that Juliet attended. She says she ran into one old friend who used to be pretty, but the woman is now bony and married to a doctor who clicks his tongue when he speaks.
While Sophie and Juliet only see each other once throughout the novel, their friendship is able to remain strong because they continually write to each other. Though not literature as far as Sophie and Juliet are concerned, the fact that their letters comprise the novel itself speaks to the power of writing to connect people to each other. Juliet's comment about the woman suggests she doesn't think well of women who settle in their relationships.
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Juliet wonders if there's something wrong with her, given that she finds men intolerable. She admits that she's always been bad with men and thinks that she should lower her standards. She asks Sophie if the furnace man was her one true love, even if the two of them never spoke to each other. Juliet remembers the year that Sidney took it upon himself to introduce her to poets, and then asks again if she's too particular. She says she doesn't want to be married just to be married.
Though Juliet can't vocalize it now, what she finds intolerable about men is that most of the ones she sees try to control the women around them. Because Juliet is so independent, this means that she's naturally disinclined to see those men as worthy of her attentions. Note too that she doesn't see marriage as something that should be a goal in and of itself; she believes there should be more to it than security.
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From the island of Guernsey, Dawsey Adams writes to Juliet. He explains that he knows of Juliet because he owns The Selected Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb, which used to belong to her and has her address inside the front cover. Dawsey admits that he loves Charles Lamb and wants to know if he wrote more books. He asks Juliet if she'd put him in contact with a London bookseller and possibly procure a biography of Lamb. Dawsey says that Charles Lamb made him laugh during the German occupation, especially his writing about a roast pig—the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came about because of a secret roast pig. He mentions that his friend Mrs. Maugery owns one of Juliet's old pamphlets and finds Juliet's margin notes amusing.
Dawsey chooses to write to Juliet because he believes the two have something in common: a love of Charles Lamb. This introduces the idea of literature as a connecting force even more clearly, and the connective powers of books as objects specifically. By reading used books that Juliet made notes in, both Dawsey and Mrs. Maugery are able to learn something about someone else and because Dawsey has Juliet's address, he's able to bring this relationship into the real world.
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