Apparently Kenneth Branagh’s foray into the mystical side of things was merely a flirtation. It was recently announced that the director won’t be returning to helm Thor 2, and now he’s getting back into the period side of things. Variety reports that 20th Century Fox is circling Branagh to direct their adaptation of the bestselling WWII-set novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, the book begins in 1946 and tells the story of Juliet, a thirtysomething author who decides she is tired of covering “the sunny side of war and its aftermath.” A Guernsey farmer discovers Juliet’s name in a book and begins gathering neighbors to write her with their stories from the war. The book’s narrative is made up of these letters, focusing on numerous characters and plots.
Dan Roos (Marley & Me) is writing the screenplay, with Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan set to produce. I thought Branagh did a hell of a job on Thor, and he’ll be missed on the sequel, but he certainly has a knack for period flicks. Hit the jump to read a synopsis of Shaffer’s novel.
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet’s quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers. [Amazon]