Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Something Uplifting

Another hark back to film versus book: I have just read Ladies in Lavender, the short story on which the film of the same name is based. It forms part of a collection of short stories by William J Locke (Thanks Emily for finding this out for me). I can highly recommend the whole collection as they are exquisitely written, with some lovely ones based around the theme of blindness. They encompass that wonderful mix of mystery and realism that short stories can do so well.

As to how the story compares with the film…Well it is much shorter for a start! The script writer for the film extrapolated a lot from Locke’s basic storyline but, I think, kept quite faithful to the feel of the plot, the characters (the 'old' ladies were aged 45 according to Locke!) and the little seaside town. However, the ending in the short story is very different and much more abrupt than the film version. It was interesting to see how they had adapted this story for film but you don’t get a good deal more from having read the short story. I suspect the story was a great find for a script writer as it was little known and had all the ingredients for a gentle, original, British film.

Regarding 'strong stuff', I'm afraid I would have to disagree with my mother-in-law. I don't think that completely bleak novels that leave one haunted and depressed are worth reading at all, in small doses or otherwise. I am of the view that we can get our facts about man's inhumanity from the daily news or from our own encounters with life without reading about it in books that would immerse you emotionally in it. I gave up reading The God of Small Things by Arundati Roi for this reason. As someone teaching in a Secondary School I was all too aware of the effects of child abuse without having to read about it.

I suppose I take this view because I tend to read for escapism, entertainment and interest and if I get educated along the way then that is a pleasing bonus. I am also aware that once a mental image is embedded in one's mind then it is very difficult to lose and has a nasty way of reappearing when least desired. I think this is even more true with films and I am therefore very choosy about what I watch. Having said that, I know a large degree of realism is needed in order to make something authentic but I couldn't put my finger on exactly where the line would be for me between the need for authenticity and a desire for soemthing uplifting. Having said all that, I really liked Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which is authentic but not that uplifting!