Interview: Lily James on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Anna Walker

We spoke to actress Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella, Baby Driver) about her latest film, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Juliet Ashton (Lily James) cranes her neck to take in the view of a front door receiving a fresh lick of blue paint as she travels across London with her long-suffering publisher, Sidney Stark (Matthew Goode). 

For city dwellers, it’s one of the first real signs that the Second World War is over, and life can move on without the constant fear of air raids, doodlebugs and tragic news from overseas. 

But, as the charming author quickly discovers, for Britain’s neighbours the war is still far from over.

 

"Prepare to be charmed by the island and humbled by the story of how ordinary people survived the war"

 

When the handsome Dawsey Adams (Michael Huisman), a farmer on the nearby island of Guernsey, discovers Juliet’s address in a second-hand book, he writes to her to request information on another book on his reading list. Guernsey stopped receiving new books as well as news of the outside world when the Nazis began their occupation in 1940. 

When she discovers that Dawsey is part of an unusual book club, curiously formed because the islanders had to hide a pig from the Nazis, Juliet finds she can’t resist a trip to the island.

So begins an unlikely friendship in which Juliet comes to understand the full extent of the horrors endured by the islanders and finds herself falling in love with Guernsey's quiet, dignified charms. 

 

Lily James is utterly charming and her chemistry with the other islanders (including her fellow Downton Abbey alumni Penelope Wilton) is so contagious, it’s hard not to feel like an extra member of the unusual reading group yourself, delighting with their discoveries of the Brontës, Jane Austen, and Charles Lamb. Of course, director Mike Newell has a gift for captivating character casts, having previously brought us such Brit classics as Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Based on the much-loved novel of the same mouthful of a name by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, prepare to be charmed by the island and humbled by the story of how ordinary people survived the war.

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society is in cinemas from 20 April.