The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Summary

Synopsis

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was written by librarian and editor Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows, who contributed to the work once Shaffer's health began to decline. Published in 2008, the novel quickly achieved critical acclaim and commercial success.

The novel's heroine, Juliet Ashton, is a moderately successful writer who finds herself homeless and restless in London after World War II. Juliet's spur-of-the-moment journey to Guernsey Island, provoked by a letter from a stranger who has found her address in a book she once owned, takes her away from the life of glamour and superficial relationships that she thought she loved and exposes her to something new.

The novel unfolds in epistolary fashion, with the story first told in letters between Juliet and her publisher while she is on Guernsey. Juliet's time in London is documented in letters between Juliet, her publisher, and her newfound associates on Guernsey Island. Juliet forges friendships with the islanders based on their shared literary interests. Her initial contact person, Dawsey Adams, writes to her because books are scarce on Guernsey, and he would like to obtain more. Dawsey tells Juliet the secret of the titular book club, which was formed as a hasty alibi when its members were discovered violating the curfew set by German forces occupying the island during the war. The society brings together islanders from all walks of life, all of whom find solace in literature during the German occupation. The impromptu book club embodies a theme already known to most book lovers: a good book can help us through even the most trying of times.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is largely lighthearted and comical in tone, but the story of Elizabeth McKenna and her German lover bring a tragic note to the novel. Elizabeth functions as a foil of sorts to Juliet. The two never meet, as Elizabeth dies in a concentration camp long before Juliet comes to Guernsey, but it is through stories of Elizabeth that Juliet discovers what is missing from her supposedly fulfilling life—love and community. Juliet finds these on Guernsey Island and eventually fills many of the gaps created by Elizabeth's death. When Juliet takes over the task of raising Elizabeth's daughter, Kit, and allowing a romantic relationship with Dawsey to ripen, she finds a fulfillment unavailable to her in London. Juliet's and Elizabeth's relationships reveal a second theme: love is not always where we expect—or want—to find it.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Summary

When Mary Ann Shaffer’s best-selling novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (2008) opens, the protagonist, Juliet Ashton, is living in London. It is 1946, and many London neighborhoods lie in rubble.World War II is just over, but its effects remain. During the war, Juliet wrote a column under the pseudonym of Izzy Bickerstaff. After the war, her publisher and close friend, Sidney Stark, published those columns as a collection. As readers are introduced to Juliet, she is on a book tour, promoting that collection, which is called Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War. The book earns enough money to provide Juliet with a modest but comfortable wage;  she has time to contemplate writing another book.However, she is stumped as to what to write about. She has written a second book, a biography of Ann Brontë, the lesser known sister of the novelists Charlotte and Emily. The book was fun to write, but it attracted few readers. So Juliet is searching for an intriguing topic that might not only be fun to write but will appeal to a larger audience.

It is at this time that she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a farmer on Guernsey Island. Guernsey is one of several islands that are located in the English Channel between France and Britain. Guernsey is basically a farming community, visited by a few tourists but fairly well isolated from the rest of British culture. Dawsey has written his letter because he found Juliet’s name on a second-hand book of poems he bought. The poet is Charles Lamb, and Dawsey would like to read more about Lamb. So he asks if Juliet might put him in touch with a bookseller in London. It is through Dawsey that a correspondence is established between Juliet and several other residents of Guernsey. In the process, Juliet learns about the island, the people who live there, as well as the harsh conditions that these people suffered during the German occupation of their island during the war.

In the process of reading Dawsey’s letters, Juliet also learns about how the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came about. The story goes like this: the residents of Guernsey were under a strict curfew while the German soldiers controlled the island. The Germans had surprised them one day, landing on their shores is large numbers and taking over their lives. The German plan was to gain control of the islands, set up forts and airports, and then launch their attack of Britain from the islands. To feed the soldiers, the Germans demanded food from the local people, which meant that many of the farmers had to give up their...

(The entire section is 1061 words.)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Chapter Summaries

Part 1, January 8-11 Summary

Juliet Ashton writes to her London publisher, Sidney Stark, and tells him of the literary luncheon she attended at Susan Scott’s. Though Ashton sold more than forty books, she is particularly impressed with the food Scott served. Scott was able to procure real eggs—a rarity—and sugar for the meringue. Ashton offers, from her royalties, to help pay for butter coupons for Scott’s next gathering. Work on Ashton’s new book, though, is not progressing very well.

Her original idea, English Foibles, seemed like a good idea. She was going to make fun of such entities as the Society to Protest the Glorification of the English Bunny and the Vermin Exterminators’ Trade Union, but it turns out there is not much to write about beyond the obvious, and she no longer wants to write this book. While she loves her pseudonym, Izzy Bickerstaff, Ashton does not want to write anything else under that name. In short, Ashton wants to be considered as more than a light-hearted journalist.

It was sometimes difficult to help her readers laugh during the war years, but that time is over for Ashton. In order to write humor, she must find a sense of balance and proportion; and right now she can find neither of these things. In the meantime, Ashton is glad that Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War is making money for Stephens & Stark—it makes up (at least in part) for the “debacle” of her Anne Brontë biography.

Stark replies to Ashton’s letter a few days later and congratulates her on her effective connection to the audience at the literary luncheon. Based on that, he believes, she should not be nervous about her book tour next week; he is certain she will be a great success. He recalls having seen one of her dramatic readings eighteen years ago when she enthralled her audience—but suggests she should not throw the book at her audience when she is finished this time.

Scott is looking forward to taking...

(The entire section is 622 words.)

Part 1, January 12 Summary

Ashton writes her friend Sophie that she would love to see her but has been ordered by Sophie’s brother to go on a tortuous book tour. The thought of her going to Scotland for a visit instead would certainly make Stark glower—and they both know how well he can glower. Ashton is sure that her friend would pamper her if she did come and wonders if Sophie’s husband Alexander would mind a permanent resident on his couch.

While Ashton loves nothing better than reading and talking about her book to entranced audiences, the prospect is a gloomy one for her now. In fact, she is even more melancholy now than she was during the war because everything is so “broken”: the roads, the buildings, and especially the people.

Perhaps she feels this way because of the horrible dinner party she attended the night before; the food was (not surprisingly) horrible, and the conversation seemed to focus on bombs and starvation. As if that were not bad enough, her dinner partner was an intolerably boring single man. Ashton wonders if there is something wrong with her and whether she should lower her standards for acceptable men in her life. Even worse, she cannot blame her man troubles on the war, for she has never been very good at relationships.

Surely she will not be condemned to live only on the memories of her past loves, romanticized men whom she never actually met. Ashton asks her friend if she is too particular when it comes to men. She knows she does not want to be married just for the sake of being married, for she can think of nothing lonelier than spending the rest of her life with someone she cannot talk to—or worse, someone with whom she cannot be silent.

Ashton apologizes for complaining and says she is sure her friend must be relieved that she is not coming for a visit. She sends her love to Alexander and asks Sophie to give her son Dominic a kiss for her and tell him Ashton recently saw "a rat the...

(The entire section is 653 words.)

Part 1, January 15-18 Summary

In a letter to Dawsey Adams of Guernsey, Ashton writes that she has moved but is glad the letter Adams wrote still got to her. She was out of shelf room and had a spare copy of Lamb’s book, but she still felt like a traitor when she sold it. Hearing that her beloved book has landed in a good home has eased her mind, but she wonders how it got to Guernsey. Perhaps books have some kind of secret “homing instinct” that causes them to end up in the perfect hands.

Upon receiving Adams’ letter, Ashton went immediately to Hastings & Sons, not an onerous task, for rummaging through old bookstores is one of her favorite pastimes. It is the one store she has frequented for years, and she has always been able to find...

(The entire section is 563 words.)

Part 1, January 21-23 Summary

In a letter to Stark, Ashton tells him that traveling on night-trains is a glorious experience once again. During the war, the trains were constantly delayed by troop trains and had to have blackout curtains on all the windows. She feels that during the war everyone seemed like moles scuttling along in their lonely tunnels; now the sight of families simply sitting together at their kitchen table is a delight to her.

At one bookshop, a man was aggressive with Ashton, demanding to know how she, “a mere woman,” dares to desecrate the name of Isaac Bickerstaff, a noted journalist and "the soul of eighteenth-century literature,” who is now dead. Before Ashton could answer, a woman from the back row jumped to her feet...

(The entire section is 667 words.)

Part 1, January 25 Summary

Susan Scott writes to her employer, Sidney Stark, warning him not to believe the newspaper reports. Ashton was not taken away in handcuffs and arrested; the local constable did scold her, but he could barely keep a straight face while doing it. Ashton did throw a teapot at Gilly Gilbert’s head, but the tea was cold and she did not scald him, as reported. The hotel manager refused to let Ashton repay him for the dented teapot, but Gilbert had screamed so loudly that he was forced to call for the constable. Here is what actually happened.

Gilbert asks for an interview with Ashton, and Scott should have denied his request. She knows he is a loathsome person who is jealous of the...

(The entire section is 618 words.)

Part 1, January 26 Summary

Stark writes that Ashton did not embarrass him or the company; he only wishes the tea had been hotter and she had aimed lower. The press is eager to get him to make a statement regarding the incident and Gilbert’s “latest muckraking,” and he will oblige them soon. His statement will about the degenerate state of journalism, not about Ashton or Dartry.

He has decided that they should not extend her book tour to Scotland. Sales of Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War are extraordinary, and he thinks she should come home. Ashton also has a job offer from the Times. They want a long article from her for their supplement, one of a three-part series which will be published in successive issues. He is going to...

(The entire section is 556 words.)

Part 1, January 28 Summary

Ashton writes that she gladly accepts Stark’s dinner invitation, promising to wear her new dress and “eat like a pig.” She is thankful not having embarrassed the company; she had even considered making some sort of public statement but was concerned about making Dartry sound like a fool, which would have happened if she had tried to explain. She prefers looking like a flighty, hard-hearted woman to impugning a good man’s name; however, she would like to explain herself to Stark and tells him this story.

Stark was in the Navy in 1942, so he never met Dartry; Sophie was also away and only learned about the whole affair afterwards, and then Ashton swore her to secrecy. The longer she went without saying anything to...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Part 1, January 31 Summary

In a letter to Sophie, Ashton thanks her friend for flying down to see her in Leeds and assures her that the sketch in London Hue and Cry of her being taken away in chains is an exaggeration. She plans to maintain a dignified silence about the matter, but Stephens & Stark cannot do the same.

Stark held a press conference in which he defended the honor of Ashton, Izzy Bickerstaff, and journalism. He vilified Gilly Gilbert, calling him something like a “twisted weasel.” Stark made it clear that the so-called reporter lied because he was too lazy to learn the facts and too ignorant to understand how his poor behavior impacted the noble traditions of journalism. Ashton thought it was lovely and...

(The entire section is 784 words.)

Part 1, February 3-4 Summary

In a letter to Dawsey Adams, Ashton thanks him for telling her the story about the roast pig but reminds him that she asked three questions and would still like him to answer. She wants to know more about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, because of personal curiosity and the professional habit of prying into the unknown.

Ashton tells Adams she wrote a weekly column for the Spectator during the war; after the war, Stephens & Stark compiled the columns and published them in a volume entitled Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War. The magazine chose her pseudonym, and she is thankful she can now write under her own name. Ashton would like to write a book, but she is having trouble...

(The entire section is 563 words.)

Part 1, February 5-10 Summary

Markham Reynolds writes Juliet Ashton and allays her fears; he did not fire the delivery boy who gave her his address. He promoted the boy for getting what Reynolds has been unable to get—an introduction to her. Reynolds considers this their preliminary meeting, so he will no longer have to try to finagle invitations to events he thinks Ashton is likely to attend, hoping to meet her (something he has had very little success at doing because of her suspicious friends).

Reynolds claims his intentions are not mercenary. He wants to meet her because she is the only female writer who makes him laugh, and he wants to meet the woman who wrote the Izzy Bickerstaff columns, the “wittiest work to come out of the...

(The entire section is 741 words.)

Part 1, February 12 Summary

Ashton writes Sophie to tell her that Markham V. Reynolds has finally become more than an embossed card attached to some flowers. She agreed to go to dinner with him at the elegant Claridge’s and then spent the next three days worrying about her hair. (She would also have been worrying about what to wear if she had not just gotten a new dress.) After several failed hairstyling attempts, a neighbor lady came to Ashton’s rescue and in just a few moments created an elegant upsweep—and Ashton could even move her head when the woman was finished. She tells Sophie about her evening.

When she sees Reynolds for the first time, Ashton’s confidence immediately leaves her. He is a stunning man, tanned with “blazing blue...

(The entire section is 721 words.)

Part 1, February 13-17 Summary

In his letter of recommendation, the Reverend Simpless assures Amelia Maugery that Juliet Ashton can be trusted. He was friends with her parents and was at their home the night Ashton was born. She was born stubborn but with a sweet, joyous temperament; even from a young age, she showed an unusual sense of integrity.

When she was ten years old, Ashton was singing the fourth stanza of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” when she suddenly slammed her hymnal shut and refused to sing anything more, telling the choir director that the song “cast a slur on God’s character” and none of them should be singing it. Nonplussed, the choir director escorted the young girl to the Reverend’s office where she explained that the...

(The entire section is 538 words.)

Part 1, February 18 Summary

Ashton sends a cryptic note, with love, to Susan Scott denying everything.

Maugery writes Ashton to thank her for taking her requests seriously. She suggested that any Society members who are interested should write directly to Ashton about what books they read and the joy they find in reading. The response was so overwhelmingly loud that Isola Prisby, the group’s Sergeant-at-Arms, had to bang her gavel to restore order. It is likely that Ashton will be receiving many letters very soon.

The Society was invented as a ruse by the quick-thinking Elizabeth McKenna to keep the Germans from arresting Maugery’s six dinner guests, though the hostess knew nothing about it at the time. Here is how it happened....

(The entire section is 760 words.)

Part 1, February 19 Summary

Isola Pribby is the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Guernsey Literary Society, and she is thrilled to learn that Ashton has written a biography on Anne Brontë, which Maugery will soon lend her. Pribby knows much about the Brontë family. She believes the father was a selfish brute, that the brother was nearly as bad, and that all the girls' dying so young was a tragedy. It is her belief that since there were no admirable men in the Brontë household, Emily had to invent Heathcliff purely from her imagination. Pribby believes that Emily did a fine job and that men are much more interesting in books than they are in real life.

She would have liked to send Ashton her notes on the Brontë girls from the Society meeting in...

(The entire section is 523 words.)

Part 1, February 20-26 Summary

Ashton writes Adams to thank him for sending her white lilacs, her favorite flower. She wonders how he managed to find them in winter but then remembers that the Channel Islands are blessed with the warm Gulf Stream weather. The flowers were delivered by a Mr. Dilwyn who was in London on business for his bank. He expressed his cheerful willingness to perform this task (or any other) for Adams because Adams gave Mrs. Dilwyn some soap during the war. (She still cries every time she thinks of this kind act.)

Ashton tells him she has received lovely, informative letters from Amelia Maugery and Isola Prisby. Until she read their letters, Ashton had not realized that the Germans had permitted no news at all from the outside...

(The entire section is 710 words.)

Part 1, February 28 Summary

Ashton agrees with Sophie, writing that Stark's going to Australia is surprising, but Langley would steadily have drunk himself to death in the rest home if someone had not gone to stop him. Though she loves Stark dearly, Ashton feels rather liberated knowing that he is so far away for now.

For the past three weeks, Reynolds has been persistent in his attention to her, and Ashton finds herself always waiting for Stark to discover them, although they certainly have not been in hiding. Stark has made it clear that he does not like Reynolds, calling him “aggressive and unscrupulous," but Ashton is a grown woman and can socialize with anyone she chooses.

Aside from always being on the lookout for Stark, Ashton...

(The entire section is 844 words.)

Part 1, March 1 Summary

A citizen of Guernsey who is not a member of the Literary Society, Miss Adelaide Addison, writes a letter to Ashton because she feels it is her duty to give her some very important information. She has learned from Dawsey Adams that Ashton is writing an article for the Times’ literary supplement about the value of reading and intends to feature the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The idea makes Addison laugh.

She is hoping Ashton will reconsider her plan after hearing some terrible facts about members of the group. First of all, the founder of the group, Elizabeth McKenna, is not even a native Islander. Though she puts on “fine airs,” McKenna is “merely a jumped-up servant” from a...

(The entire section is 578 words.)

Part 1, March 2-4 Summary

Markham V. Reynolds writes a note inviting Ashton to attend the opera in Covent Garden at 8:00. (He appropriated tickets from his music critic.) When she receives the note, she writes to ask if he means tonight, and when he responds in the affirmative, she accepts with enthusiasm. The tickets are hard to get, and she feels sorry for his music critic; however, Reynolds says the critic will be fine in the standing room section and can actually write his story from the perspective of the poor or some other such thing. Reynolds will pick Ashton up at seven o’clock. Reynolds now signs all his correspondence to Ashton with “Mark” or simply “M.”

Ashton writes Eben Ramsey and thanks him for sharing his experiences...

(The entire section is 689 words.)

Part 1, March 10 Summary

Ramsey writes Ashton a letter in response to her questions about his grandson, Eli. The boy’s mother, Ramsey’s daughter, died on the day the Germans bombed Guernsey; his father died two years later in Africa. Eli lives with Ramsey now, but he had been evacuated, along with thousands of other babies and schoolchildren, to England eight days before the bombing. There was no word about the children for six months; then Ramsey got a postcard from the Red Cross which said Eli was well. No one knew where the children had been taken, and it was a long time before Ramsey was able to write his grandson. He had to tell Eli that both his parents had died.

Eli and the other children all came home together once the war was over,...

(The entire section is 795 words.)

Part 1, March 12 Summary

Dawsey Adams writes an answer to Ashton’s question about Mrs. Dilwyn’s crying over soap. During the middle of the Occupation, soap became scarce and families were only allowed one bar per month. The soap was made of some kind of French clay and would produce no lather: “[Y]ou just had to scrub and hope it worked.” Staying clean was hard work, and everyone got used to being rather dirty all the time. The soap allotted for clothes and dishes was no better.

Some of the ladies suffered greatly because of this, and Mrs. Dilwyn was one of those women. Most of her dresses, bought before the war, had come from Paris, and they were ruined much more quickly than others. One of Adams’ neighbors had a pig that died of...

(The entire section is 751 words.)

Part 1, March 20-25 Summary

Stark sends Ashton a cable saying his trip home will be delayed; he fell off a horse and broke his leg. Piers Langley is nursing him. Ashton replies with a cable offering her condolences and asking which leg he broke. He replies that it was the other one. She is not to worry; he does not have much pain, and Langley is an excellent nurse. Ashton is relieved that it was not the same leg she broke and asks if she can send him something to help his convalescence: books, recordings, poker chips, or her life’s blood. In a final cable, Stark says he needs none of those things, but he would like her to keep sending long letters to entertain him and Langley.

In a letter to Sophie, Ashton writes it is ridiculous for Sophie to...

(The entire section is 694 words.)

Part 1, March 27-31 Summary

John Booker is another member of the Literary Society, though he has read only one book, over and over: The Letters of Seneca: Translated from Latin in One Volume, with Appendix. He writes to Ashton, telling her how the book and the Society kept him from being a lifelong drunkard. For four years of the Occupation, John Booker pretended to be his former employer, Lord Tobias Penn-Piers. The nobleman fled to England when Guernsey was bombed; Booker was his valet and stayed.

On the night of the pig roast, Booker walked home after curfew with the others, although he is unclear about some of the details because he was, as usual, slightly drunk. He heard soldiers shouting and waving their guns, and he knew Adams was...

(The entire section is 811 words.)

Part 1, April 2 Summary

Dawsey Adams writes to Ashton and is not surprised that Adelaide Addison wrote Ashton such derogatory letters, for she “lives on her wrath.” Very few eligible men were left on Guernsey during the war, and the few who remained were suffering the effects of the Occupation; they were defeated and their appearances reflected that defeat. While there was no glamour among the remaining Guernsey men, the German soldiers had plenty of it.

Like gods, they were tall, blond, handsome, and tanned. They had money, were enjoyable company, and could dance all night. Some of the girls who dated these men would give the things they got from the soldiers to their families: cigarettes, meat patties, jellies, rolls, and fruit. Their...

(The entire section is 697 words.)

Part 1, April 4-7 Summary

Juliet Ashton writes Amelia Maugery, telling her that the sun is out for the first time in months and, if she averts her eyes from the piles of rubble, she can almost pretend that London is beautiful again. She tells her new friend that Adams has written her about Christian Hellman and reflects that war has caused all kinds of tragedies, but she is thankful some of McKenna’s Literary Society friends were there when she had her baby. Now, down the street, a man is painting his front door a beautiful sky blue. Two boys had been whacking one another with sticks, but now they want to help paint and the man hands them each a paintbrush. Perhaps the war does eventually end.

Reynolds is impatient that Ashton has so little...

(The entire section is 631 words.)

Part 1, April 8-10 Summary

Mrs. Clara Saussey used to belong to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, but she is certain none of the members have told Ashton about her. She never read a book by a dead writer; instead, she read from her own cookbook, and she is certain her book caused more tears and sorrow than any other book the group discussed.

Saussey would read descriptive passages from her book, such as those about juicy roast pig and spun-sugar sweets, and it was nothing but torment for the starving group to hear such words. There was swearing and even the threat of violence before several members swept Saussey away safely. The next day, Ramsey called her to apologize but asked her to remember that most members of the group...

(The entire section is 783 words.)

Part 1, April 11 Summary

In a letter to Dawsey Adams, Ashton says she has received another letter from Adelaide Addison; it is dedicated to vilifying all the “people and practices she deplores.” Adams is one of them, as is his beloved Charles Lamb. Among her complaints is the fact that she called on Adams to have him deliver the parish magazine but she could not find him anywhere. He was not milking his cow, hoeing his garden, washing his house, or anything else which might be useful for a farmer to do; instead, she found him lying in his hayloft and reading a book by Charles Lamb. Adams was so engrossed with “that drunkard” that he did not even notice Addison was there. Ashton assures Adams that she thinks Addison is a “blight” and wonders if...

(The entire section is 562 words.)

Part 1, April 12 Summary

In a letter to Stark and Langley (who are recuperating in Australia), Ashton relates what she has learned about Guernsey. She has looked everywhere, even the Reading Room at the library (a place which petrifies her), and she has discovered a lot about this place which she has only learned about recently.

One man, Cee Cee Meredith, was rich and adventurous, and he sailed into various ports and wrote about what he saw and felt. Meredith, says Ashton, was an “idiot who thought he was a poet” and did not always bother himself with any of the dull facts of a place; often he would find a moor, beach, or field and let his poetic muse move him. Despite this, his book A-Tramp in Guernsey gave Ashton what she needed...

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Part 1, April 15 Summary

Dawsey Adams is not sure what ails Adelaide Addison. Isola Pribby’s theory is that she is a blight because she enjoys being a blight. It gives her a sense of destiny. The one good thing Addison did in her letter of destruction was demonstrate how much Adams enjoys reading Charles Lamb’s writing.

The biography has arrived and out of impatience he has been reading too quickly; he will go back and reread more slowly so he can ingest everything more thoroughly. Adams appreciates Lamb’s ability to take something familiar and turn it into something fresh and beautiful. In fact, Adams feels more at home in Lamb’s London than he does in his own home town right now.

He does have difficulty imagining how Lamb...

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Part 1, April 18 Summary

Juliet Ashton thanks her Guernsey friend Dawsey Adams for writing about Charles Lamb in his letters to her. She has always believed that his sister Mary’s suffering is what made Lamb a great writer, even though he had to make great sacrifices because of it. His experiences with Mary gave him a “genius for sympathy” that none of his great writer friends had.

When Wordsworth scolded his friend Lamb for not caring enough about nature, Lamb wrote that he has no passion for places in nature, the groves and the valleys. What he appreciates and loves are the familiar things in his life: the room in which he was born, the furniture which he has seen all his life, a bookshelf full of old friends which have followed him...

(The entire section is 627 words.)

Part 1, April 20-21 Summary

Ashton happily answers Pribby’s questions and apologizes for not thinking of it herself before now. She is thirty-three years old and says her hair is chestnut with gold glints, though when she is in a bad mood she thinks of it as mousy brown. There was no wind when her book photo was taken; she has naturally curly hair and it is unruly. Her eyes are hazel and, though she is slim, she would prefer to be taller.

She no longer lives by the Thames; Ashton misses that most about her former home. She used to love the sound of the river, but now she lives in a small, overly furnished apartment that does not allow pets. If she could, she would love to own a dog. Kensington Gardens are nearby, so when she feels too cooped up...

(The entire section is 766 words.)

Part 1, April 22 Summary

Eben Ramsey writes to thank Ashton for the lovely gift she sent Eli, his grandson. The boy sits and studies the blocks of wood, as if he can see something hidden inside them which he can release with his knife.

Not all of the children were evacuated during the war, but those that stayed behind suffered because there was not enough food for them. One boy was twelve but weighed no more than a seven-year-old. The choice was a terrible one for the parents: send their children away to live with strangers or keep them here in potential danger. The Germans might not come, but if they did, how would they treat the natives; however, England might be no safer if the Germans invaded there.

The Islanders were in shock...

(The entire section is 671 words.)

Part 1, April 24 Summary

Pribby writes in response to Ashton’s telegram and proudly announces that McKenna did, indeed, slap Adelaide Addison right across the face. “It was lovely.” The children had already said goodbye to their parents and were waiting in the school getting ready to be put on the buses which would take them to the pier. No parents were allowed in the school, as one child’s crying might cause an eruption of tears. Because of that, it was strangers who tied shoelaces, wiped noses, and placed nametags around each child’s neck. These volunteers got the children ready and then played games with them until the buses arrived. McKenna and Pribby were doing a fine job of keeping their charges happy and distracted until Addison arrived...

(The entire section is 631 words.)

Part 1, April 26-30 Summary

Adams’ temporary job at the quarry is finished and Kit will now be staying with him for a time. As he writes, the little girl is under the table, whispering. When he asks her what she is whispering, there is a long silence and then she begins again. This time Adams can hear his own name along with other sounds. He tells Ashton this is what generals call a “war of nerves,” and he knows who is going to win.

Kit does not resemble her mother except for her gray eyes and certain look she gets when she is concentrating hard. On the inside, though, she is just like her mother—“fierce in her feelings.” This was true even when Kit was a baby. She would howl until the glass in the windows shook, and when she gripped...

(The entire section is 516 words.)

Part 1, May 1-3 Summary

Ashton writes a letter to Reynolds after their dinner last night, trying to explain that she did not refuse him; all she asked for was more time. He was busy ranting about Guernsey and Stark and had not really heard what she said. She has only known him two months, and that is not enough time for her to know for certain whether they should spend the rest of their lives together. Ashton explains that she nearly married a man she did not really know, and she will not make the same mistake again.

She reminds Reynolds that she has not been in his home—or even knows where it is, exactly. New York, but on what street? Ashton wonders what color the walls of his home are painted; if he arranges his books alphabetically; if he...

(The entire section is 804 words.)

Part 1, May 10-13 Summary

Ashton receives a cable from Stark in which he gives her his blessing for a trip to Guernsey. He says it will be good for her and good for a book, though he wonders if Reynolds will let her go. She sends a return cable saying she appreciates the blessing but that Reynolds is in no position to forbid or approve her plans.

Maugery writes in response to a telegram from Ashton and says she is thrilled to learn Ashton will be coming to Guernsey for a visit. She has spread the news as Ashton asked her to do, and the Literary Society members have been thrown into a “whirlwind of excitement.” The members have offered her all manner of things Ashton might need, including room, board, electric clothes pins, and...

(The entire section is 710 words.)

Part 1, May 14 Summary

Isola Pribby writes Ashton to tell her that she is getting McKenna’s cottage ready for her and that she has asked several of her friends from the Market to write their stories for Ashton. (If a Mr. Tatum writes and asks for money in exchange for his story, Ashton should ignore him because “He is a big fat liar.”) In case Ashton would like to know, Pribby describes her first sight of the Germans. She will add some adjectives for Ashton’s sake; however, she usually prefers nothing but the facts.

It was quiet in Guernsey but everyone knew the Germans were there. The day before, planes and ships had unloaded the soldiers. The planes, much lighter now, became almost frolicsome, bobbing and swooping, scaring the cows...

(The entire section is 804 words.)

Part 1, May 15 Summary

Another Islander, Sally Ann Frobisher, writes Ashton to tell her about how she was “personally humiliated” during the war. She was twelve in 1943, and she had scabies. There was never enough soap in Guernsey to keep anything clean, and everyone had skin diseases of some kind: scabies or pustules or lice. Frobisher had scabies on top of her head (under her hair) and she could not get rid of them. Finally the doctor told her she had to go to the hospital to have her hair shaved and to have the tops of the scabs cut off to allow the pus to drain. She hopes Ashton will never know the “shame of a seeping scalp. Frobisher wished she would die.

At the hospital she made a new friend, Elizabeth McKenna, who helped the...

(The entire section is 718 words.)

Part 1, May 16 Summary

John Booker writes a letter to Ashton explaining that he gets too nervous when he talks to people, but he is willing to tell his story in writing. He was actually not in Guernsey during the war; he was in Neuengamme Concentration Camp in Germany.

Ashton has already heard that Booker pretended to be Lord Tobias for the first three years of the Occupation. Peter Jenkins’s daughter, Lisa, was dating any German soldiers who would give her stockings or lipsticks until she met Sergeant Willy Gurtz, “a mean little runt.” The two of them made a despicable pair, and Lisa is the one who turned Booker in to the Commandant.

One day Lisa was getting her hair done in a beauty parlor and was reading an old magazine;...

(The entire section is 792 words.)

Part 1, May 19-20 Summary

Juliet Ashton writes to Dawsey Adams and says she will finally be arriving the day after tomorrow. She admits she is too afraid to fly, even with the liquid courage of gin, so she will be arriving on the evening mail boat. She asks him to give Isola Pribby a message for her: She does not own a hat with a veil, and lilies make her sneeze, so she cannot carry them in a bouquet, but she does have a red wool cape and will be wearing it when she arrives.

She tells Adams he could not do one thing more than he and the others have already done to make her feel welcome. It is difficult for her to believe that she is actually going to meet all of her Guernsey friends at last.

Adams signs his letter with the word...

(The entire section is 514 words.)

Part 2, May 22 Summary

Ashton writes Stark about arriving in Guernsey, and she has so much to tell him—a good sign for a writer. The voyage was horrible; the boat creaked and groaned as if it would fall apart at any moment. She almost wished it would do so, just to alleviate her misery; however, she wanted to see Guernsey before she died. As soon as the island was within sight, the sun broke out from behind the clouds, the cliffs shimmered silver, and she forgot all about the miserable part of the journey.

Her heart was racing as she saw St. Peter Port. She tried to tell herself it was simply the scenery, but she knew better. The thought of all the people she had come to know through her correspondence was thrilling, and they were all...

(The entire section is 796 words.)

Part 2, May 24-27 Summary

Ashton writes Sophie that she resisted Reynolds’ persistent efforts to get her to marry him. Only as she saw him standing on the pier when the mail boat pulled away did she wonder if she was a “complete idiot,” as he told her. Many women are eager to get him, and perhaps she will spend the rest of her life in a steady decline, wandering the streets like a vagabond and bragging to strangers that she had once been nearly engaged to Markham Reynolds, the publishing tycoon. They will shake their heads and think she is crazy but harmless.

Guernsey is beautiful, and her new friends have welcomed her warmly. Until this moment, Ashton has not regretted her decision. Now she will run through the field of wildflowers right...

(The entire section is 787 words.)

Part 2, May 30-31 Summary

Ashton writes Stark about her first meeting at the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. There was an overflow crowd, and the speaker was a new member, Jonas Skeeter, who spoke about The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. He strode angrily to the front of the room and pronounced that he did not want to be here and had only read this ridiculous book because his oldest, dearest, former friend, Woodrow Cutter, had shamed him into it. Cutter was shocked by the announcement.

Skeeter explained that he had been working on his farm when Cutter arrived with the book and said he would like his friend to read it; he called the book profound. When Skeeter said he had no time to be profound,...

(The entire section is 798 words.)

Part 2, June 6-10 Summary

Ashton writes Stark the morning after he called her from London. She was surprised but pleased to know he is no longer five oceans away from her. Now that he is just across the Channel, she hopes he will come visit as soon as possible.

Pribby has brought seven people to Ashton to tell her their Occupation stories, and she has accumulated a stack of interview notes. That is all they are for now, and she does not yet know if a book is possible or what form it should take if she writes it.

Kit has begun spending a few mornings each week at Ashton’s, playing relatively quietly with rocks and shells while Ashton works. Then they take a picnic lunch down to the beach; if it is foggy, they play games inside....

(The entire section is 553 words.)

Part 2, June 12 Summary

A letter addressed to any member of a Book Society on Guernsey arrived on June 12, 1946, and was delivered to Eben Ramsey two days later. It is a letter from Remy Giraud, Elizabeth McKenna’s friend, and she is sad to write that McKenna was executed in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in March of 1945. Giraud is writing because she is afraid McKenna’s friends would never hear of her imprisonment and death.

McKenna spoke often of her friends from the Literary Society and cherished them as her family. She was thankful and at peace knowing her daughter was in their care. Giraud is writing for Kit and those caring for her, so that they will know about the strength McKenna demonstrated for others while in the camp, as well...

(The entire section is 790 words.)

Part 2, June 16-21 Summary

Amelia Maugery writes to Remy Giraud, thanking her for her kindness in writing the letter which explained Elizabeth McKenna’s last days and death. She knows it could not have been an easy task for the young woman, as it undoubtedly dredged up her own horrible memories of the war. While she and the other Literary Society members have been praying and hoping for McKenna’s return, they are glad to know the truth rather than live in a state of perpetual uncertainty. They are all thankful that their friend had a friend like Giraud.

Maugery asks if she and Dawsey Adams can come visit her in the hospice in France; they know it might be disturbing to her, but they would very much like to see her. They have an idea...

(The entire section is 605 words.)

Part 2, June 23 Summary

Amelia Maugery writes to Juliet Ashton after meeting Remy Giraud at the hospice in France. While she felt as if she could not bear to meet Giraud, Adams was confident and calmly placed some chairs under a shade tree and asked the nurse for tea. Maugery so wanted McKenna’s friend to like them, but she was worried about Giraud’s fragile condition and the warnings that talking about Ravensbrück might be upsetting to the patient.

Giraud is very small and certainly too thin. Her dark, curly hair is close-cropped, and her eyes are huge and haunting. She was once a beautiful young lady, but now “she is like glass.” Though she tried to keep her hands still in her lap, they trembled. Giraud tried to welcome Maugery and...

(The entire section is 538 words.)

Part 2, June 28 Summary

In a letter to Sidney Stark, Juliet Ashton tells him the gift he sent Kit was positively inspired. The satin tap shoes covered with sequins are perfect for a four-year-old girl.

Kit has been staying with Ashton since Maugery and Adams returned from France. Maugery has been tired ever since she got home, and it just seems best for Kit to stay with Ashton, especially if Remy Giraud decides to come stay with Maugery once she leaves the hospice. Ashton is thankful that Kit seems to like the idea, as well.

Adams told Kit that her mother is dead, and Ashton has no idea how Kit feels about that; the girl has not said anything about it, and Ashton will never ask. She tries not to be too attentive or make her special...

(The entire section is 408 words.)

Part 2, July 1 Summary

Sidney Stark writes a reply to Juliet Ashton’s request for him to help her with her book. He tells her there will be no need to send him any of her research, her manuscript, or her interview notes, for he would like to make a trip to Guernsey. He wonders if this weekend would suit her.

Stark would like to see Ashton, of course, but he also would like to meet Kit and Guernsey—all in that order. He certainly does not want to read her work as she nervously paces back and forth in front of him, so when he leaves Guernsey, he will take her manuscript with him back to London where he can read it in peace.

He writes that he will arrive on Friday afternoon via the five o’clock plane and intends to...

(The entire section is 412 words.)

Part 2, July 6 Summary

Stark writes a letter to his sister Sophie to tell her that he is finally on Guernsey, visiting Ashton. He is now prepared to tell her a few of the dozen things she wanted him to find out for her.

First, it appears that Kit loves Ashton as they do. The girl is lively and reservedly affectionate, which is not as contradictory as it sounds. When she is with one of her adoptive Literary Society parents, Kit is quick to smile. She is also adorable, and Stark has an almost overwhelming urge to cuddle her, though he knows it would be "an affront to her dignity” and is not brave enough to try it. Her stare is wilting when she does not like someone, but Pribby says Kit only uses it on Mr. Smythe, who beats his dog, and Mrs....

(The entire section is 804 words.)

Part 2, July 7-8 Summary

Ashton writes to her friend Sophie and tells her there is no need to worry about her brother or his leg. Stark is tanned and fit, without any noticeable limp. She and Stark even threw his cane into the ocean. He looks wonderful.

She hosted a small dinner party for Stark and cooked the entire meal herself. Will Thisbee gave her a cookbook designed for beginners, and it contained many useful hints, such as the reminder to break the shells before adding eggs to any recipe. The food was even edible.

Stark is enjoying his stay at Pribby’s house. The two of them stayed up late last night, talking. Pribby, who is never subtle, asked Stark if he and Ashton are engaged to be married. If not, she wanted to know why,...

(The entire section is 500 words.)

Part 2, July 9-15 Summary

Ashton writes Stark to thank him for coming to Guernsey, for now he knows all her friends and they know him. She is particularly pleased that Stark enjoyed spending time with Kit; however, she regrets to tell him that much of Kit’s fondness for him is likely due to the book he brought her. Ashton is afraid that Adams was not at his best while Stark was here; he seemed more quiet than usual at her dinner party. It may have been her soup, but she thinks it is more likely that Adams was preoccupied with Giraud. He is convinced she will not get well until she comes to Guernsey to recuperate.

Ashton is glad that Stark took her unfinished manuscript with him; while she knows something is wrong with it, she has no idea what...

(The entire section is 802 words.)

Part 2, July 17 Summary

While McKenna did not keep a diary, Ashton writes Stark, she drew during the Occupation until she ran out of paper and pencils. Ashton found some of McKenna’s sketches stuffed into a large art folio, including many quick sketches of her friends which seem like marvelous portraits to Ashton. While she was looking at them one day, Maugery stopped for a visit, and they discovered several large sheets of paper covered with sketches of Kit. McKenna captured many of the little things all babies do, such as being delighted at their own spit bubbles or hypnotized by their own toes. Though other mothers must look at their children with such an intense focus, McKenna immortalized it on paper.

They also found a sketch of a...

(The entire section is 772 words.)

Part 2, July 19 Summary

Ashton writes Stark that she is now finding stories about McKenna everywhere, not just among the Literary Society members. This afternoon, Ashton and Kit had walked up to the churchyard. Kit was playing among the tombstones, and Ashton was lying flat on a tabletop tombstone (with four sturdy legs), sunning herself, when the old vicar who kept up the cemetery grounds approached. He told Ashton that she reminded him of McKenna, for she also used to sun herself on this very spot and got “brown as a walnut.”

This caught Ashton by surprise, and she immediately asked the old man if he had known McKenna well. He said he did not know her well, but McKenna and her friend Jane, Ramsey’s daughter, used to come here and have...

(The entire section is 665 words.)

Part 2, July 22-23 Summary

Ashton tells Sophie to burn this letter after reading it, for it should not end up among Sophie’s papers one day. She reminds her friend that she has already told her about Dawsey Adams: that he was the first person from Guernsey to write her, that he adores Charles Lamb, that he is helping to raise Kit, and Kit adores him. What she has not told her is that the first time she met Adams, when he held out both of his hands to greet her at the bottom of the gangplank, she “felt an unaccountable jolt of excitement.” Adams is so undemonstrative that Ashton has no idea if he felt anything, so she has spent the past two months trying to act as casual and normal as possible—until tonight.

Adams came over to borrow a...

(The entire section is 722 words.)

Part 2, July 24 Summary

Ashton asks her friend Sophie to burn this letter after reading, along with her last one. She has finally and conclusively refused Reynolds’ marriage proposal, and her “elation is indecent.” If Ashton were a properly trained lady, she would sit in the dark and brood—but she could not. Today she is free, and today she got out of bed with great energy. She spent the morning running races in the pasture with Kit. Kit won, but that is because she cheats. Today has been a good day, but yesterday was “a horror.”

Her initial feelings about Reynolds’ arrival were bad, but the next morning they were even worse. Radiating confidence, he appeared at her house at seven o’clock, certain they would be planning their...

(The entire section is 638 words.)

Part 2, July 27-29 Summary

In a letter to Stark, Ashton says she knew McKenna had been arrested for harboring a Todt worker; however, until a few days ago, she had not known McKenna had an accomplice. Ramsey casually mentioned Peter Sawyer, someone who had been arrested with McKenna. Sawyer is now living in a nursing home, and when Ashton called him, he said he would be happy to see her—especially if she brought him some brandy. Sawyer is in a wheelchair; when they finally went outside to sit under an arbor, Sawyer sipped his brandy while he talked. This was one time Ashton took notes, for she did not want to miss a word of his story.

Sawyer was already in a wheelchair but still living in his home when he found a sixteen-year-old Polish boy...

(The entire section is 806 words.)

Part 2, August 1 Summary

Ashton writes to Stark, telling him that Remy Giraud has arrived in Guernsey. She is a tiny thing with short black hair and eyes that are nearly black. Ashton thought Giraud might look wounded, but all she has is a slight limp which just looks like a slight hesitancy in her walk. Despite that, Giraud is no waif. Up close, she has an intensity in her eyes which is unnerving; she is not cold or unfriendly, but she is reserved and seems to be a bit removed from the realities of daily life. Given her experiences, Ashton does not find this surprising.

Everything changes when Giraud is with Kit. At first she simply followed the girl with her eyes and did not talk to her; however, things changed when Kit offered to teach...

(The entire section is 760 words.)

Part 2, August 3 Summary

Stark receives a letter from Ashton thanking him for the gift he sent—anonymously—to Isola Pribby. It is a book published in the mid-1800s called The New Illustrated Self-Instructor in Phrenology and Psychiatry: With Size and Shape Tables and Over One-Hundred Illustrations. As if that were not enough, the book has a subtitle: Phrenology: The Science of Interpreting Bumps on the Head.

Eben Ramsey hosted a gathering last night for Ashton, Kit, Adams, Pribby, Maugery, Thisbee, and Giraud. Pribby brought tables, graph papers, sketches, measuring tape, calipers, and an empty notebook. After clearing her throat, she read the advertisement in the front of her new book, explaining that this book will...

(The entire section is 511 words.)

Part 2, August 5 Summary

Susan Scott writes to Ashton and explains that Stark leaves Ashton’s  letters lying open on his desk for all to see; so, of course, she has read them. Scott wants to reassure Ashton that any personal errands Billee Bee does are done because she wants to do them. She begs to do whatever she can to help Stark, Ashton, or Kit, the one she calls “that dear child.” Billee Bee practically coos at Stark, and it is all Scott can do not to gag.

Contrary to what Stark thinks, Billee Bee is not an angel sent from heaven; she was sent by an employment agency, and her assignment was temporary. Now she has “dug herself in” and made herself indispensible—and permanent. Scott wonders if Kit would like some live...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

Part 2, August 6-7 Summary

Stark sends Ashton a telegram asking if Kit would like a bagpipe. He just bought one for his sister’s son, Dominic, and the store has only one left, so she must let him know immediately if she wants one. In reply, Ashton writes that, while she is confident Kit would adore having a bagpipe, she would not.

Work on Ashton’s book is going well, but she would like to send Stark the first two chapters, as she will not feel content with her work until he has seen it. She asks if he has time to read it.

Ashton believes every biography should be written within a generation of the subject’s life, while the person is still alive in the memories of others. If she had been able to speak to...

(The entire section is 660 words.)

Part 2, August 9 Summary

In a letter to her friend Sophie, Ashton sends her congratulations on the news that Sophie is pregnant. She hopes Sophie will not suffer much morning sickness, and though she knows Sophie does not care if the baby is a boy or a girl, Ashton is hoping for a little girl to spoil. She has already begun knitting a tiny pink matinee jacket for her. Ashton made the mistake of telling Pribby the news; Sophie may soon be receiving a bottle of Pribby’s Pre-Birthing Tonic. Ashton begs her friend not to drink the potion—or to throw it away anywhere the dogs might find it. Though it is not likely to contain anything poisonous, she does not want Sophie to take any chances.

All of Sophie’s questions about Adams should be asked...

(The entire section is 757 words.)

Part 2, August 11 Summary

Ashton writes that she is thrilled Stark is happy with her progress on McKenna’s biography, but she has something she cannot wait to tell him. She saw it firsthand, and if she is correct, Stephens & Stark Publishing will have the “publishing coup of the century.” Scholarly papers will be written, degrees will be granted, and Isola Pribby will be sought after by every university, library, and rich private collector in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Pribby was supposed to speak about Pride and Prejudice at last night’s Society meeting, but her goat Ariel ate her notes right before dinner. In her desperate hurry, Pribby grabbed several letters written by her Granny Pheen. When she pulled out the bundle...

(The entire section is 819 words.)

Part 2, August 13-20 Summary

In an overnight letter to Ashton, Stark writes that they are going to believe it was, indeed, Oscar Wilde who wrote Pribby’s letters. Billee Bee did some research, and Wilde was on Jersey for a week in 1893, so he might have gone to Guernsey during that visit. A famous graphologist will be arriving Friday with some of Wilde’s authenticated letters. If Thisbee finds the Holy Grail in his back yard, Stark does not want to hear about it. His heart can take only so much.

Pribby writes Stark to say she has heard about the handwriting expert he is sending to look at Granny Pheen’s letters, hoping to discover that they were written by the famous Wilde. Pribby is certain it was he, but she knows Stark will be enchanted by...

(The entire section is 610 words.)

Part 2, August 22-24 Summary

Ashton writes Sophie that Stark is becoming quite grand, sending an emissary to collect Pribby’s Wilde letters. Though Billee Bee did not do well on the crossing, she rallied enough to eat dinner and was a lively participant in tonight’s Literary Society meeting. 

There was only one awkward moment, when Billee Bee tried to kiss Kit. She backed away and told Billee Bee she does not kiss. It is apparent that Kit does not like the woman, but Ashton wants Kit to demonstrate good manners at all times and spoke privately with her later.

Ever since Kit was officially made an orphan, Ashton has worried about Kit’s future and her future without Kit. She is certain it would be unbearable. Ashton plans...

(The entire section is 800 words.)

Part 2, August 25-26 Summary

Ashton writes to Scott, telling her Pribby has made her an honorary member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Kit is making her a special gift which she may want to open outside since it involves glue and sand. Her telegram came just in time. When it arrived, Ashton thought she and Billee Bee were alone in the house; however, when she went upstairs, she discovered that her guest and all her belongings were gone.

Terrified, Ashton called Adams to help her hunt for the missing woman. He came after calling Booker, telling him to check the harbor and ordering him to stop the woman from leaving Guernsey at any cost. Adams arrived at the cottage quickly, and they ran down the road toward town. As they...

(The entire section is 814 words.)

Part 2, August 29 Summary

Ashton writes Sophie to tell her that all is well once again on Guernsey. Ivor has made his copies, and the original Wilde letters are back in Pribby’s biscuit tin. Ashton is now calm until Stark reads the letters.

Ashton was even calm during the entire Billee Bee ordeal until after she put Kit to bed that night. Then she started to pace until there was a knock at her door. She was surprised and a little flustered to see Adams at her window, and she threw the door wide open—to find Adams with Giraud standing on the front steps. They came to see how she was doing (very kind of them). She wonders if Giraud is getting homesick for France yet.

Ashton just read an article by a French political prisoner held...

(The entire section is 804 words.)

Part 2, September 2 Summary

It has been an upsetting day for Ashton, and she is so disturbed she is having trouble sleeping. She writes Stark instead of her friend Sophie because Sophie is pregnant, and Ashton does not want to upset her. Today Kit was with Pribby making cookies. Giraud and Ashton needed some ink, and Adams needed some supplies for the repair work on the Big House, so they all walked together to go to St. Peter’s Port.

They walked the beautiful route along the cliff, on a rugged pathway which wanders up and around the headlands. Because the path narrowed, Ashton was a little in front of Adams and Giraud when a woman turned onto the path from behind a large boulder and began to walk toward them. She had a big dog with her, an...

(The entire section is 568 words.)

Part 2, September 4-6 Summary

Stark sends a night letter to Ashton explaining that all the thinking she did simply means that she is in love with Dawsey Adams. He wonders if Ashton is surprised; he is not. He just wonders why it has taken her so long to realize it. He has always heard that sea air is supposed to clear one’s head, but it has not seemed to work for her. Stark wants to come see her and the Wilde letters; he will not be able to come until the thirteenth, and he wonders if that will suit her. Ashton sends a telegram to Stark the next day telling him that he is insufferable, especially when he is right. She will love seeing him on the thirteenth.

Pribby writes to Stark, telling him it is about time he is coming to see her Granny...

(The entire section is 589 words.)

Part 2, September 7-11 Summary

Ashton writes Sophie and says she finally got up the nerve to tell Maugery about her desire to adopt Kit; she was anxious for her approval, above all. When Ashton finally spoke the words, Maugery’s relief was visible. Ashton was shocked, for she had not realized how worried Maugery was about Kit’s future. Maugery was so moved she could hardly speak, and soon both women were in tears. After the tears, they began to scheme.

Maugery will go with Ashton to see Mr. Dilwyn; she has known him since he was a boy, and he would not dare to refuse her this request. Having Maugery on one’s team is like having an entire army at one’s back. While that is good, something even better has happened, and Ashton’s last doubt...

(The entire section is 737 words.)

Part 2, Isola Pribby Sunday Notes Summary

These are the private notes of Miss Isola Pribby, and they are not to be read, even after her death. She is writing them in a notebook which Stark sent her. It had the word PENSEES on the front, but she scratched it off because she will not be writing her thoughts, just facts. She does not expect to make many observations at first, as she must learn to be more observant.

Sunday’s observations are as follows: Kit loves spending time with Ashton. Kit is peaceful and no longer makes faces behind people’s backs. Also, she can wiggle her ears now, something she could not do when Ashton came to Guernsey. Stark is coming soon and will stay with Ashton, as she has cleared out a storage room and added a bed for him....

(The entire section is 809 words.)

Part 2, Isola Pribby Monday Notes Summary

These notes are all from Monday, and Pribby titles them “A Serious Error, A Joyous Night.”

Pribby wakes up too early and has to fuss with her hens until she knows Adams has left for work at the Big House. She walks to his farm, checking every tree trunk along the way for carved hearts, but she finds none. For two hours Pribby washes, waxes, and cleans but finds nothing. Just as she is beginning to despair, she thinks about books and begins to clap them open and shut to see if anything falls out. Nothing does. Then she sees a little red book about Charles Lamb’s life and wonders what it is doing here. She had seen Adams place it in the wooden treasure box Eli carved him for his birthday. If the book is here, what...

(The entire section is 768 words.)

Part 2, September 17 Summary

Juliet Ashton writes to Sidney Stark, apologizing for making him turn around and return to Guernsey after having just left; however, she requires his presence—at her wedding. She has seized the day, and the night, and now she wants Stark to come give her away in Amelia Maugery’s backyard garden on Saturday. Eben Ramsey will be the best man, and Isola Pribby will be the maid of honor; she is “manufacturing a gown” just for the occasion. Kit will be the flower girl and throw the rose petals.

Dawsey Adams will be the groom.

Ashton wonders if Stark is surprised. It is likely he is not, but Ashton certainly is. In fact, she finds herself in a constant state of surprise these days. Now that she stops to...

(The entire section is 421 words.)

Lori Steinbach, Ed. Scott Locklear