Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Why change Rosamunde Pilcher's bestselling novel for the television/video version?

Also in today's blog
Review by US reader of The Shell Seekers
Evelyn Anthony's 79th birthday

Browsing our public library's video shelves, Mr Bookworm spotted The Shell Seekers and, knowing it was one of my favourite novels, borrowed it. We watched it last night after supper. Angela Lansbury plays the central character, Penelope Keeling, who is described on the video cover as "reaching her early seventies". In the film she remarks several times that she's 63, although at the end of the book she is 64.

This is a trifling detail compared with some of the major changes made by the film-makers. The book starts and ends with Penelope as a woman in late middle age, but the main emphasis is on her young life; how, as a Wren [which the author also was] she met her unsatisfactory husband, and how she met the great love of her life, Richard, a British soldier killed in action during WW2.

In the film, Richard is changed to an American serviceman and reappears as grey-haired San Wanamaker, but only briefly. The film-makers stopped short of inventing a happy ending for him and Penelope.

My "best" copy of The Shell Seekers is in Spain, but I have a book club edition here on the island, and I took it to read in bed instead of watching Joanna Lumley in Sensitive Skin on TV, 10-10.30 p.m. being rather late at night for an early riser.

Review by US reader of The Shell Seekers

For the benefit of those who haven't read the book, here's a review by an American reader, Antoinette Klein, whose comments are the first of 60 reviews at the Amazon US website.

She writes – "I doubt that anyone who reads "The Shell Seekers" will ever forget Penelope Keeling and her three children---Nancy, Olivia, and Noel. Nor will they be likely to forget Sophie, Lawrence, Danus, Antoinia, Richard, and the other characters that move through this spell-binding, heart-enriching novel."

"Mrs. Pilcher sets out to explore the disastrous effects that the prospect of an inheritance can have on a normal family. She also combines the lifestyle of upper-class Bohemians and the days before, during, and after World War II to tell a story that will be forever fresh."

"From the beautiful beaches of Cornwall to the idyllic setting of Ibiza to the bustling life in London, Rosamunde Pilcher transports readers to a world as satisfying as a cup of tea with a plate of warm scones. You will see Penelope grow up in the sheltering world of her artist father and young, French mother. You will share her first love with Ambrose, her true love with Richard, her most wonderful joys and her deepest heartbreaks. You will see her anguish with her three adult children as she struggles to give them independence and feels their venom. You will see her come to terms with her life and her beloved painting of "The Shell Seekers." "

"I first read this book several years ago and only yesterday finished a second reading of it. I found it even more warm and heartfelt than ever. I will make it a point to savor this most marvelous book every few years just for the pure joy it gives."

Evelyn Anthony's 79th birthday

The 79th birthday of another of my favourite authors was in "Today's birthday" list in The Times yesterday. Last month another distinguished author, military historian Correlli Barnett, whom I had the pleasure of knowing in the Sixties/Seventies, turned 80. More about him in a future blog.


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