Should have Borrowed an Asprin

Currently on Loan from the Library:

13 ½  by Nevada Barr
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Hunter’s Moon by Dana Stabenow
A Fine And Bitter Snow by Dana Stabenow
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

I have a deep fondness for books that have been turned into movies.  I enjoy comparing and contrasting.  There are certain things that are totally wonderful in the movies, and nothing short of disastrous in a book.  Likewise there are moments in books that I read, and read again, only to fast forward past them when I watch the movie.   Most book to movie conversions fall into one of three categories for me.

The Revamps – These are movies that are just better than the books they were adapted from.  Think Peter Benchley’s Jaws or Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.  Both nearly impenetrable reads full of purple prose, action scenes that last way to long, and lagging plot.  Yet, both have become iconic in movie form.   For a more recent example look at Amanda Brown’s novel Legally Blonde.  The book is fun and maybe even charming for the first third, then drives off the road, into a pond and rolls around in the mud at the shallow end for the rest of the book.  Still somehow, turn it into a movie, throw in some Reese Witherspoon, and you have something fun that my husband didn’t hate watching.

The Gems – Occasionally there is a movie that is just as good as the book it was adapted from.  These are rare, and precious to me.  I always loved Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I also thought Peter Jackson did a heck of a job with the movie version.  Sure, yes, everybody who is a fan of the books has a detail that they think Jackson didn’t get right.  He left out Tom Bombadil.  He didn’t get Gondor just so.  Well, okay.  Still, Jackson was basically true to, plot, character, motive, style, and mood.  He gets a thumbs up from me.

Likewise, I’ve found the Harry Potter movies just as enjoyable as the books.  And again, the movies were true to the spirit of the original books.  Although, I admit I haven’t exactly watched the last one yet.  I’ll get there.  Others in this group include the ever beloved 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and the 1991 adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs.  Thomas Harris, and Jane Austen in the same sentence.  Bet you never thought you’d see that.

The Stinkers and Sinkers – Then there are the movie adaptations that just get nothing right and/or actually bring the reputation of the book down.  The movies I find personally most irritating in this category are adaptations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  It’s like they’ve never read the book.  Which maybe they haven’t.  The worst offender in my mind is Disney’s 1996 version.  Get real.  You don’t take a book about virtue, lust, sin, redemption, artifice, truth, facade and substance, and turn it into a kids movie.  Although it’s a pity you can’t.  The medium of film is just not capable of going there.  At least not in a 91 minute children’s cartoon.  The Hunchback is not now, nor has it ever been a book about an ugly guy who falls in love with a beautiful woman, but is happy that she just wants to be friends.  It’s ludicrous and Disney should be ashamed.  Also, they should get a library card for gosh sakes.

Other movies that fall into this category for me are the 2001 adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal, and the 2008 adaptation of Horton Hears a Who.  Don’t even get me started on Horton.  I could go on for weeks.

All of this is leading up to an admission.  I picked up Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed for one reason and one reason only.  It’s about to come out as a movie adaptation starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson.

I’ve seen Giffin’s books around the library.  They’re always hanging out on the shelves in their pretty pastel color, and gold lettering covers.  Like that girl in college that you always thought about getting to know, but never did. Suspecting all the while she was just a little too precious for you to ever really be friends with.  So I had never bothered with them before.  After all, I feel it’s very unlikely I’ll find real mayhem behind a delicate shell pink cover.

Something Borrowed focuses on a love triangle between Rachel, the good hardworking straight-laced lawyer girl, Darcy, beautiful toxic long term childhood friend of Rachel, and Dex who went to law school with Rachel, but was snatched up by Darcy.  At the beginning of the book Dex and Darcy are three months give or take a couple of weeks from their September wedding.  We open on Rachel’s 30th birthday party thrown for her by her best friend forever Darcy (you know, that drunk woman dancing on the bar). After being pulled off the bar by disapproving but loving Dex, Darcy is taken home.  But wait!  Dex tucks Darcy in and then comes back to the party only to end up getting drunk with Rachel and sleeping with her.

What follows next is three hundred pages of angsty melodrivel.  Seriously, these people can buy Prada, and Channel, but they can’t buy a clue.  I mean, yes, of course, there are all the usual moral issues.  But I’m talking about straight out common sense.  If you are engaged to a guy, but have no problem fooling around on him repeatedly, maybe this isn’t the marriage for you.  If the woman you are engaged to is basically drunk and flat out mean to you and her friends for three months straight, maybe she needs a trip to AA, not a trip to the Hamptons.    If the woman who is supposedly your best friend since you were eight, steels your boyfriends, lies to you repeatedly, undermines you when you get ahead, and is rude to you most of the time, she’s not really your friend.  Still, no matter how she’s treated you, sleeping with her spineless workaholic fiance will not be just fine.

Here’s the crazy thing.  It’s possible Something Borrowed will be an entertaining and maybe even enjoyable movie.  Strip away the internal meandering dialogue and you’re left with a decent plot twist and lots of summer fun in the Hamptons.  Which is pretty great movie fodder. It maybe a Revamp.  I’m kind of curious to see.  But I won’t be running out to the theatre to see it.  I’ll probably watch it when it shows up on Netflix, and I’m trying to finish a knitting project.

Enjoyability:   Something Borrowed gets two stars.  One for getting published, which is no small thing.  One for having a plot, which is left out of more books than you would think.

Where to read this book:  Somewhere that no one else can see you.  Or maybe on the electronic reader of your choice.

Further reading: I hate to say it, but I’m actually about to dive into the sequel Something Blue.  I’m oddly intrigued by the question of how Giffin lands these novels.  I wonder if she wimps out.  We shall see.

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Posted on May 4, 2011, in Fiction, review. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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