Character List and Analysis Elizabeth McKenna


A dear friend to the Guernsey islanders and the mother of four-year-old Kit McKenna. Although Elizabeth is not physically on the island during the present-day action of the novel and does not directly communicate with Juliet like the other characters, she still functions as the protagonist of the islanders' stories about the German occupation. She has been missing since being deported from Guernsey as punishment for helping a Polish slave worker, and word eventually reaches the islanders that she was killed later at a concentration camp.

Even so, Elizabeth's character is a major force throughout the novel. Juliet quickly learns that almost every islander held some relation to her, most often as a close friend. Much like Juliet herself, Elizabeth had an exceedingly personable nature and could easily earn the trust of practically anyone through her kindness. Islanders consistently tell Juliet stories of how Elizabeth had once done them a favor or offered warm encouragement in a difficult time. Even against the dark backdrop of World War II, Elizabeth retains a positive disposition and searches for the fun in life. Also like Juliet, she was spontaneous and rash at times — some of Elizabeth's decisions were certainly not supported by everyone. Many islanders could not help but disapprove of her audacious decision to become romantically involved with a German. Whatever her actions, Elizabeth always followed her heart and embraced the outcome.

Elizabeth can be accredited for the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society's very existence. Her quick wit and thinking led to a support network that would bring the islanders together during the horrors of the German occupation. Elizabeth's strength and spirit while still living on Guernsey — and even in her memory after death — is the central thread that unites the close knit group of islanders that Juliet comes to know and love.