Film: Netflix’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Featured Characters: Dawsey Adams and Juliet Ashton
Pen pals to friends to lovers, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society‘s Dawsey Adams and Juliet Ashton represent the kind of love story that’s pretty close to perfect. And in a nutshell, the film equates to the type of romance that reminds us why the idea of “meant-to-be” is so achingly desirable. You want to believe that there’s some sort of a grand plan where things are orchestrated at the right place and at the right time to ensure that two people find the missing puzzle piece they weren’t even looking for.
“Do you suppose it’s possible for us to belong to someone before we’ve met them? If so, I belong to you or you to me, or me simply to the spirit I found among you in Guernsey. […] And hope that if books do have the power to bring people together, this one may work its magic.”Juliet Ashton, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Writer’s Note: This deep dive will focus specifically on Netflix’s film adaptation.
Juliet Ashton and Dawsey Adams and the Safe Haven
The detail that’s always worked to create a compelling dynamic and a love story between them is how their similarities blend while their differences enlighten. They are both fond of reading, but one is a writer whereas the other is nowhere close to the field. Her creativity blends seamlessly with his strategic personality, creating a kind of kinship that flows throughout the film’s entirety. Because in every way where it matters, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a story about found families and what happens when people allow themselves chances to open up through companionship.
Dawsey takes a chance to write a letter to a person who might not respond to him, and Juliet, the receiver, takes a similar leap of faith when she not only answers, but she begins a conversation that changes everything. The decision to trust each other from the start never felt like something that needed to be earned because the film makes it clear that the magic is brought on by an understanding that feels like a great big sign.
There is also, of course, the informal meeting as seeming strangers who have no idea that they stand in front of the person they’ve been corresponding with when a plate falls as Juliet is walking, and Dawsey is the one to give her directions. If the two weren’t already pen-pals before, this is a quintessential romance moment worthy of showcasing to the viewers that the two are the couple to root for.
He chooses to then bring lilacs for her, symbolic of first love—a proper form of it which the two of them find with each other in moments of understandable shyness and the quiet realization that they are attracted to one another physically as well. And then, he buys her a drink, allowing her to make him laugh once more as he chooses to be transparent in vocalizing that she’s not as he had pictured. But it’s Juliet’s response after this lighthearted moment that forms something so achingly vulnerable—the decision to tell him that it wasn’t what she was picturing per se, but how she felt knowing that in their letters, she never had to explain herself.
Quiet moments on the beach, telling stories, and longing gazes make their moments together special, but the kindness they both exhibit is what makes it so easy to fall in love. Neither Dawsey nor Juliet is afraid of being vulnerable or allowing the softer edges of their hearts to come to the surface. Juliet Ashton and Dawsey Adams have dealt with losses in their lives that have changed them tremendously, but still, through everything, they choose to give parts of themselves to others, opening up their hearts to welcome the world outside. As a love story that blossoms after the perils of World War II, Dawsey and Juliet showcase that second chances are possible when people allow themselves the opportunity to get to know someone’s darkness along with their light.
While much of Juliet’s life in the city was desirable and relatively pleasant, she finds unparalleled comfort in Guernsey and the kindred spirit in Dawsey’s ability to understand every part of her that others have yet to. The treacherous path in grief that she has walked is not one many people are capable of understanding the way Dawsey is, and in the simplicity of a found family, she finds a second chance in a place where she belongs—a chance to truly be happy and loved for all that she is and everything that she represents. The pieces of her that do not have to put up an act or don a moniker, but the bits of her that only so few have ever seen.
The reason the romance works is because much of their development is seen in the quiet moments where a walk together or a stunted moment alone allows them to look within, and understand that parts of themselves that they’ve tucked away are resurfacing. Neither Juliet Ashton nor Dawsey Adams are alone in the world, but their grief forces them to put up the kind of walls where though they are present with other people, they are not fully themselves. Together, and as a direct result of the love they find in each other, the tucked-away pieces of them come to the surface beautifully, allowing them to go out in the real world with those softer edges on display.
In what becomes a safe haven in every way where it matters, their love for one another makes an already beautiful place the kind of home neither expected to find. In loving and taking care of Kit as parents, both Juliet Ashton and Dawsey Adams find the light after treacherous storms. And in their shared adoration for reading, there is a magnitude of joy that they could spread in the lives of others simply by permitting the riches of literature to ceaselessly inspire them. This isn’t the kind of love story where anyone settles, but the kind where they find the truest form of a comforting home—a safe space to adore and be adored.