Not long after the end of WW2, Juliet (Lily James) receives a letter from a pig farmer in Guernsey (who’s a member of a local literary club) asking her for the address a good bookstore in London. He got her address from inside a used book she sold before the war and which somehow had made its way to this island near the coast of France. She send him one book for free at the condition that he answers three questions to explain the name of their literary club and the circumstances of its creation. The tale of their ordeal under German occupation intrigues her, therefore, being a writer herself, she invites herself for a reading at their club to make some research in preparation for a newspaper article she was asked to write. Upon arrival she notices that the founder of the club, Elisabeth (Jessica Brown Findlay), is mysteriously absent and the club members seem very secretive about her circumstances. She starts asking questions around and her enquiry will unravel a painful past and make her fall in love with the island. It’s interesting how books can touch people and change their lives forever!
Of course, it is not a perfect movie as you find, for example, many stereotypical characters (like the self-centred and possessive American, the nationalist mean informer, the nosy and religious lodger, etc.). However, it remains a very beautiful movie, that offers a well-written and touching story about the hardship of war — a time when friendship and compassionate sentiments can be quite dangerous! It’s based on the novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Interestingly, since nowadays Guernsey is too touristy, the movie was shot in North Devon with a cast in good part made of actors from Downton Abbey (Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton)! It is also noteworthy that the movie is distributed by Netflix as one of its original films (that’s where I watched it). All in all, it’s quite entertaining (critical response of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes) and an excellent movie experience.
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