What is the climax of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Three things happen kind of simultaneously in The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which create the climax of this story. Juliet Ashton finds herself on the island of Guernsey, leaving behind an unsatisfying relationship and her home in London. She meets people who lived through a terrible ordeal during World War II, and throughout the course of the novel she grows close to them in ways she never imagined. 

One of the people she spends time with is Elizabeth McKenna. Though Elizabeth is not alive, her story permeates the novel and her daughter, Kit, plays a key role in the climax, as does Dawsey Adams, the man who has been a surrogate (and part-time) father to Kit. Three things happen which create the climax of the novel.

The first is Juliet's decision to adopt Kit. This is a rather shocking discovery for Juliet to make, as this was certainly not part of her life's plan; of course, nothing that happens on Guernsey is anything like what she expected. She plans to make her desire official; however, if her request is denied, she intends to take the girl anyway.

The second is Juliet's realization that she does not need or want to return to London; again, this is something she never anticipated when she came to Guernsey. Here she has found a community and a sense of belonging which have made her happy like she never was in her old life.

The third is her realization that she loves Dawsey Adams and proposes to him--which is the final act of the climax. Of course this, too, is something unexpected; in fact, she does not even realize it for a long time and has to have it pointed out to her by her editor, Sydney. Juliet says:

I believe I am becoming pathetic. I'll go further, I believe that I am in love with a flower-growing, wood-carving quarryman/carpenter/pig farmer. In fact, I know I am. Perhaps tomorrow I will become entirely miserable at the thought that he doesn't love me back--may, even, care for Remy--but at this precise moment I am succumbing to euphoria. My head and stomach feel quite odd.  

All of these actions happen rather quickly in the novel, and together they mark the turning point of the story. All of them mark an unexpected turn in the life and thinking--and heart--of Juliet Ashton.

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