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: 19 Feb, 1946 Summary & Analysis

Isola Pribby, the sergeant-at-arms for the Society, writes to Juliet. She praises Juliet for writing a biography of Anne Brontë; Isola loves all the Brontë sisters and their work. She expresses distaste for the girls' father and brother, and suggests that Emily Brontë had to devise Heathcliff to make up for her disappointing male family members. Isola says that she loves the Brontë sisters because she loves stories of passionate encounters, as Isola is single and likes to daydream. She says she didn't begin to like Wuthering Heights until Cathy's ghost appeared. Now, she thinks that good literature like Wuthering Heights ruins a person for enjoying bad books.
It's worth keeping in mind that Heathcliff isn't actually a kind or romantic character: he's domineering, controlling, and scary. However, Isola's assessment offers some insight into why a woman like Juliet might go for a man like Mark, who exhibits some similar characteristics to Heathcliff: both men are powerful in their own rights, while women rely on their husbands' power to keep them safe.
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Isola tells Juliet about herself. She lives in a small cottage near Amelia's farm and has chickens, a goat, and a parrot. She sells vegetables and elixirs at market every week, and Elizabeth's four-year-old daughter, Kit, helps stir the elixirs. Isola describes herself as ugly and too tall. She offers to write again and to tell Juliet about how reading helped her get through the occupation. She says the only time that reading didn't help was when Elizabeth was caught hiding a Todt laborer and was sent to a prison in France. They're still waiting for Elizabeth to come home.
Isola's mention that literature didn't help soften Elizabeth's arrest makes it clear that while connecting with other people over books can help make life bearable, it's not magic. However, it'll become clearer later that while the books themselves didn't help much, the friendships that the Society formed because of the books were instrumental to their ability to move on with life after Elizabeth was arrested.
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