The Time Traveler's Wife

Adaptation

So I saw The Time Traveler’s Wife at the cinema last night (yes it does pain me to write traveler with one l). I have been looking forward to the release of this film for a while as I adore the book beyond all measure as I wrote about here and I had high hopes. I don’t know why I did, as literary adaptations never cease to disappoint me in some measure, and I usually end up having a moan after watching films of my favourite books about how so and so wasn’t a bit like they should have been, and how they missed such and such an important storyline out etc . I find that filmed versions of novels, especially dense and complicated ones with various characters and an emphasis on conversation rather than plot can never live up to the imagined version you have of a book, and so you do have to adapt your expectations accordingly. However, I am also an eternal optimist and so I was determined to hope for the best and was prepared to be swept away and into the world of this remarkable story.

I was. To an extent. But I was also bitterly disappointed in the complete exclusion of certain characters, like Mrs Kim, and how Clare’s mother’s mental disorder was not even mentioned, how little Gomez and Clarisse feature, how small a role Henry’s father has, and how very little of the shared past Clare and Henry have before they meet in ‘real’ time is shown. Unless you have read the book, you will leave the cinema confused, as many threads are picked up and then never really explained; I suspect some overzealous editing is the culprit. The emotional intensity of Clare and Henry’s relationship is obvious; if they’re not kissing, they’re in bed; but they don’t actually talk much, and unless you know their characters from the book, you would struggle to understand why exactly they feel so passionately about one another.

It was a fairly good go at a very complicated book and I can understand why they cut out periphery events and characters because they do only have 2 hours or so to fit it all in. However, it all fell a bit flat really and didn’t give enough background or depth to Clare and Henry’s relationship to make the film as emotional as I wanted it to be. I wanted to have a good sob like I did at the book, and yet it wasn’t until the final scene that isn’t even in the book that I cried my eyes out and had to grope around in the dark for a tissue.

I am very fussy when it comes to adaptations of my favourite books and I am sure that if I was coming to the film without having read the novel I would have enjoyed it more because it wouldn’t have been vying for supremacy over my imagined version of what the book on film should have been like. One of my friends who came with me hadn’t read it and she still enjoyed it, but my other friend who has read the book also was a bit disappointed, though that didn’t stop her from crying for most of the way through the film!

It’s worth a watch but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again. It has made me think though of what does make a good film adaptation of a novel, and it is, I think, making sure that characterisation is not sacrificed over plot. My favourite film adaptation (by film I mean cinema release, not tv adaptation) of a novel is Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma because Gwyneth Paltrow is exactly how I imagined Emma to be, and the film captures the spirit of the book perfectly in my opinion. I’d be very interested to hear what are your favourite adaptations, and why?

In other news, I made Simon’s chocolate orange cake the other night and it was delicious, despite me having no caster or icing sugar and having to use granulated sugar for everything. This was due to my own laziness at not being bothered to trek to Morrissons at 9.30pm. The cake turned out fine with granulated, and I used 4 eggs rather than Simon’s three, but I wouldn’t recommend using granulated sugar for butter icing – the gritty crunchiness is still tasty but a bit wearing on the teeth! However, needs must and it still tastes good! See photo. It’s now almost all gone as my flatmates and our friends have been hacking slices off left right and centre. Also, excitingly, I bought a zester, which has actually IMPROVED THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE and therefore you all must buy one too. Gone are the days of having to spend half an hour brushing zest out of my cheese grater with a pastry brush – the zester takes it all off and drops it right into the bowl with no mess and no fuss and no wastage. Such joy! ¬£1.49 in Morrissons. I love Morrisons. So thanks to Simon for a fabulous recipe. I’ll definitely be making it again, it was absolutely delicious!

I am now sitting on the sofa watching Persuasion as I am going on holiday to Bath not next week but the week after and I want to pretend I am Anne Elliot running along the Royal Crescent to meet Captain Wentworth when I am there. So romantic! All I need to do is find myself a Captain Wentworth…a girl can dream!

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Ican’tspellhernameegger

I’ve been holding out on reading this for literally years. First my work friend told me to read it, then my sister did, then posters on the tube told me how wonderful and five stars brilliant it was, then Richard and Judy shoved it in everyone’s face with their ‘book club’ that isn’t really a club, actually, and then every charity shop I went in had a bazillion copies and whispered ‘buy me’ in my ear as I picked up every book around those Richard and Judy stickered little bundles of mass marketed literature…for years I refused to jump on the bandwagon, and last week, last week I finally resisted.

I got my copy from a kind local lady through freecycle, as I refused to pay for the privilege and instead got lost in deepest darkest South East London as I couldn’t be bothered to take a map, which served me right. Many three point turns later I returned to my flat with The Time Traveler’s Wife, and three days later I reemerged into the world, teary and stunned and confused and in love with this strange, nonsensical but somehow still completely believable novel, and very annoyed at myself for delaying this reading pleasure for so long. Over those three days I took this book with me everywhere and couldn’t stop reading; on the train, on the tube, on my lunchbreak, whilst cooking, whilst in a coffee shop with friends (rude, I know, but seriously, you’ll get it when you start reading), whilst ‘babysitting’ my nephews, while walking down the street, while driving (at traffic lights, of course) and while in bed…at 3am, 4am…it took over my life. I haven’t read a book that did that to me since Rebecca. Rebecca was so engrossing it made me fall down the stairs. It broke my heart, but at the same time, filled me with hope. It is a remarkable piece of writing that is inventive and moving and downright irresistible. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my preassessment. Read it!

The film is coming out soon. Of course it won’t be as good as the book, as these things never are (though Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma does a very good job), but I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the book of my imagination gets portrayed on screen. Below are the stars – The Notebook‘s Rachel McAdams and Hulk‘s Eric Bana. I can’t stand Eric Bana which is disappointing but Rachel McAdams gets my seal of approval. From the looks of the trailer there is going to be a lot of lip action as illustrated here so I just hope it’s not too much on the steamy side of things!

Even more excitedly, she whose name I cannot spell has written another novel due out this year, and Highgate Cemetery has a big role in it. I love love love Highgate Cemetery and have tons of creepy postcards of sepia tinted graves on my wall…the Victorians knew how to do death. I have high hopes and have preordered it already…the cover design leaves much to be desired but I know better than to judge by the cover in this case…I am a changed woman.