The guernsey and literary potato peel pie society : analysis of juliet ashton

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Juliet Ashton
Juliet is the main character of the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the one whose point on view on the other characters is the most given and whose point of view we hence adopt.
She is 32 years old; she has curly chestnut hair and hazel eyes. She is slim but not very tall (To Isola, 20th April, p.103). She lives in Chelsea, London artistic andliterary district (cf. pp. 14-15 and p. 103 for physical description). She wrote humorous columns for the Spectator (a British weekly, the oldest in Britain, founded in 1828) during the war under the "nom-de-plume" Izzy Bickerstaff. (A pseudonym modelled on Joseph Addison's, Isaac Bickerstaff. Addison (1672-1719) was an English man of letters who founded the daily newspaper The Spectator in 1711with his friend Richard Steel). These articles have been published under the title Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War by her old friend Sidney Stark, a publisher.
Contrary to a biography of Anne Brontë she had written before, her book is quite a success and, at the beginning of the novel, Juliet is starting a tour to present it at "literary luncheons" and in bookshops all over England.
Juliet has atwofold personality. At first sight, she appears as a sharp-witted humorous woman who enjoys eating oysters, drinking Champagne and dancing with handsome Markham Reynolds, trying to forget the grimness of the war years. Her writing style is charming, clever and entertaining. In the first part of the novel, she might be compared to the whimsical heroin of some American comedies, like the one playedby Katherine Hepburn in Bringing up baby, for example. (cf. the scene in which she throws a teapot at Gilly Gilbert's head. Suzan to Sidney, 25th Dec. p. 16)
However, she is not as easy-going and self-assured as she looks at first sight. At the beginning of the novel, she is reluctant to meet her readers and she feels very shy when about to meet the member of the GLPPS: “… I realised that myheart was galloping. (…)All these people I’ve come to know and even love a little, waiting to see – me. And I, without any paper to hide behind. (…) On the page, I’m perfectly charming, but that’s just a trick I’ve learnt.”(To Sidney, 22nd May, p. 139)
Her deep self is serious and demanding, as we discover in her letters to her childhood friend Sophie, in the 20th April letter to Isola or in theletter sent by Reverent Simon Simpless to Amelia Maugery.
Juliet’s parents had a farm in Yorkshire and her mother also owned a bookshop. This piece of information concerning her parents’ occupations is not to be neglected as it announces the future relationship between Juliet and Dawsey: he, a farmer, and she, a writer and former bookseller.
She describes herself as “a fairly nice child untilmy parents died when I was twelve.” After their death she was sent to live in London with her great-uncle, a scholar who had no time for her. She then became a rebellious girl who ran away twice to go back to her parents' farm. “I was a furious, bitter, morose little girl.” (Letter to Isola. 20th Apr. p. 104) A girl revolted against the dramatic fate that had made her an orphan.
ReverentSimpless describes her as "a stubborn but nevertheless a sweet, considerate, joyous child - with un unusual bent for integrity in one so young. (p.41)This description could no doubt match Elizabeth McKenna, her alter ego. Like Elizabeth, Juliet is also courageous, independent and honest with a high sense of justice. She must have learnt to hide her true feelings under a varnish of sophistication, goodhumour and wit. On that point, she is typically English since she tries to keep a stiff upper lip whatever the circumstances.
When the novel starts, Juliet feels "gloomy - gloomier than (she) felt during the war ". She is listless and empty. The book she was supposed to write, English Foibles, does not appeal to her any more. She affirms to Sidney (8th Jan): “I don’t want to be considered a...
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