More often than not, when I read a book and then watch it’s corresponding movie or TV show, I report back that the book is better. However, over the past few years, I’ve come across some prime exampled where the screen just knock the socks off the book. Here are these rare, oddball gems.
1. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
One week and 250 pages later, the only way I can can describe this book is chaotic. The book bounces from one adventure to the next, I’m just going to outline them this way:
- Meet Forrest, the “idiot”.
- Forrest goes to a “nut school”.
- Forrest plays football for high school.
- Forrest plays football at University.
- Forrest gets drafted to the Vietnam War.
- Forrest becomes an international Ping Pong champion.
- Forrest plays Harmonica for “The Cracked Heads”.
- Forrest becomes an unwilling NASA participant.
- Forrest survives a Pygmy attack.
- Forrest becomes a pro wrestler.
- Forrest becomes a Chess champion…sort of.
- Forrest becomes a Hollywood actor.
- Forrest starts up a multi-million dollar shrimping company.
- Forrest runs for US Senate…and then doesn’t due to his past “careers”.
Basically, in the novel, Forrest is trying to reconnect or following the love of his life, Jenny Curan, but let me tell you, the movie Jenny and Forrest are much more G-rated than the book, and their love story is so much sweeter, and a lot less creepy. Additionally, two of the movie’s most famous quotes- “Run Forrest, run!” and “Momma said, life is like a box of chocolates…”- are only hinted at but never said in the novel version. Such a let down.
Basically, Groom made an interesting story line, but it was like he couldn’t decide what direction to take his main character, so he took him in EVERY direction. The movie takes the cake because it kept it simple.
2. Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
I’m a fan of Nicholas Sparks and his perfectly sappy but endearing love stories, but I have to admit that this book was more than a little sub-par for me, especially compared to the movie.
The premise of the novel is Adrienne, divorcee and mother of three, recalling the time she spent in Rodanthe, NC, running her friend’s inn for a long weekend. There, she met Paul, a divorcee doctor and estranged father of one, who decides to turn over a new leaf, starting in Rodanthe. He books the weekend at the inn and the two almost immediately fall for each other. In the end, Adrienne realizes that not only has Paul given her the chance to heal her broken heart, but he has also given her future something to look forward to. Boringggg. In this case, the movie allows the actor’s chemistry to really “show” that the fictional couple’s weekend mid-hurricane romance better than the novel “tells”. Where the novel (though short) drags on, the movie timing makes for the perfect short & sweet tale.
3. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
I spotted this book in a local shop and picked it up to read the jacket. It was a pretty cover, and the story sounded like something right down my alley- historical nonfiction romance, and even one review stated that it was reminiscent of Downton Abbey– which I love.
The premise of the story is that one of the wealthiest debutantes in America, Cora Cash, is almost desperate to escape the clutches of her overbearing mother. Although Mrs. Cash wouldn’t dare admit it, she’s hoping to marry off her daughter to a titled European man to raise the status of her “new money” family. After a failed proposal attempt, Cora and her mother head to Europe, landing in England. There, she meets and is arranged to marry the Duke of Wareham, but it isn’t what she expected- she may have gotten rid of her mother, but only in trade for an overbearing mother-in-law, and frenemy who has a past with the Duke.
Goodwin does a very good job describing the “Edwardian Dollar Princess” era, in which young and rich American women were married off to historically upper class and titled European bachelors. However, the downside to the novel is that though both the series and the novel have slow-burn type paces, the TV series more action and plot twists that push the plot along, with less predictability than the novel. Additionally, the novel’s narration goes into detail trying explain the setting and grandeur of the era, leaving the reader bogged with descriptive details that the TV screen easily avoids.
Also, it bothered me that both Downton Abbey and The American Heiress‘s main characters have the same name and background, which made me question if one copied the other- after some research, I found the novel was published a month prior to the series, so it seems to be an odd coincidence. Personally, I found the show’s lead much more intriguing.
So, there you have it!
Three novels that you can skip or cross off your TBR list, just by watching their electronic counterparts! Feel free to chime in- what movies have you seen that actually turned out better than their book counterparts?
Also, if you enjoyed this thought piece, check out some of my other fun posts!