After my return from Orlando, I went online to see if my local library had any copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows available. Luckily, a couple of copies were checked in, and I placed an order for one of them to be delivered to my local branch. I brought it home on Wednesday and was finished reading it by Thursday afternoon.  I’d read it when it first came out, and with the movie coming out in November, I decided that it was time for a re-read.  I’ve liked all of the Harry Potter movies, but I like the books much, much better.

My preference is to read books before seeing the movies they are based on. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I do try. That’s why I recently read Never Let Me Go (discussed here), why I am watching adaptations for the Jane Austen Odyssey and why I just re-read Deathly Hallows.  It’s my contention that, as a rule, books are better than the movies that are based on them.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, and that’s where the controversy begins.  People have different tastes, which is a good thing, because the world would be a very dull place if we all agreed on everything.  For example, there are those who prefer MP99 to the book. They don’t like Fanny Price in the first place, so it doesn’t bother them in the slightest that Patricia Rozema gave Fanny a personality transplant.  In fact, they prefer the “new-and-improved” Fanny to the one Austen created.  That’s OK. I disagree with them vehemently, but nothing I say will change their mind, so there’s really no point insulting their intelligence.

The exceptions I can think of off the top of my head include Flambards, North & South, and pretty much anything by Charles Dickens.

Flambards is based on the first 3 books of a series were written by British author K.M. Peyton in the 1960s.  The series was released in the UK in 1979 and was shown on PBS in the US afterwards.  Later, Peyton wrote another book about the same characters, but it was not published until after the adaptation was released and this book has never been adapted.  In my not-so-humble opinion, the books are fine, but the series is better. Flambards stars nobody you’ve ever heard of, and tells the story of a young orphan named Christina Parsons who is sent to live with her uncle in the years before World War I.  Christina will inherit a fortune when she turns 21 and Uncle Russell intends that she will marry his son, Mark.  But we all know about the plans of mice and men, and Christina has a mind that is very much her own.  The series may have been intended to be for young adults, but this is one middle-aged adult who still loves it.

North & South is based on a novel by the same name written by Victorian authoress Elizabeth Gaskell, who also wrote Cranford and Wives and Daughters.  I am acquainted with a slew of people who adore the book, but it left me cold.  I can safely say that I don’t think I’ll ever read it again.  The series, on the other hand, is engrossing.  Sandy Welch wrote the script, and she really brought the characters to life.   Richard Armitage brings more nuance to John Thornton than I ever saw in the book, and Daniela Denby-Ashe made me like Margaret far more than I did in the book.

Charles Dickens may have written more classics than most authors, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like them.  I liked his A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations, but that’s about it.  I’ve also read David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, and have to say that I much preferred the adaptations to the books.  So when I saw the 1998 adaptation of Our Mutual Friend (starring Keeley Hawes, Anna Friel, Paul McGann and David Morrissey), I loved it but had absolutely no desire to read the book. And I am proud to say that I don’t feel guilty in the slightest.

So, what adaptations, if any, do you prefer to the books on which they’re based?