Circle Of Friends
by Maeve Binchy
Book to Film Comparison
"You mustn't mess me about. I know I may look like a rhinoceros, but I've got quite a thin skin really." Circle of Friends, Minnie Driver, 1995
Publisher: Arrow Books/2000/United Kingdom
Plot; Big, generous hearted Benny and the elfin Eve Malone have been friends throughout their childhoods in sleepy Knockglen. When they both go to study in Dublin, they meet a circle of friends that includes handsome Jack Foley and the selfish but beautiful Nan Mahon, whose ambition will drag them all into trouble.
As Knockglem is surprised into a new life, the two girls, Benny and Eve, discover that among the many distractions of growing up true friendship is the greatest gift of all.
My Thoughts: I have been a fan of the film for a long time and when I saw this on the library shelf I knew I had to read it. I am so glad I did.
This is a truly beautiful book which I would recommend to any woman as a brilliant read.
The characters are more than lovable, even the self centered Nan Mahon is likable for the most part. They are also so well formed. As you read you really feel as though you get to know these people and by half way through the book, as each incident happens you almost know exactly how each character is going to react. I feel as though I have a whole knew group of beautiful Irish friends.
As a big girl myself, I can really relate to everything Benny feels; the insecurities, the need to be the funny girl because you know you aren't the pretty one, the want to be like the Nan Mahons of the world. You can tell by reading, and by Binchy's total ability to understand this character, that Binchy must have felt like this girl at one point in her life.
I know this is a small side note, but one of the things I appreciated about this book was that there are no lengthy descriptions of the Irish countryside. It seems that these days, as soon as an author is writing about somewhere like Ireland, in come the lengthy, tedious and monotonous descriptions of green rolling hills and endless blue skies. I much prefer to read about the characters, and that is exactly what Binchy delivers.
As I have admitted before, I am a skipper. If a chunk of text is boring me I will skip over to the juicy stuff. I didn't do that with this book. Not once did Binchy bore me. Each word of this book is meaningful and entertaining, and that is the sign of a great read.
Production; Lantana and Price Entertainment
Starring; Minnie Driver, Chris O'Donnell, Colin Firth, Saffron Burrows, Alan Cumming
Comparison; These two stories are so different that you can almost enjoy them as separate entities.
I had seen the movie first, over and over actually, and it has been high on my list of favourite flicks for a very long time. It is the type of movie that when I am having a quiet night at home, I slap on a face mask, open a box of chocolates and sit in my pajamas and watch this movie. It always cheers me up and makes me feel better about myself.
The characters are a wonderful blend of enjoyable personalities, the scenery is beautiful, the music does a fantastic job of putting you in the mood and the story is, plainly and simply, beautiful.
So you can imagine why I would pick up the book when I saw it at the local library.
As I have said, the two are just so completely different. Of course I understand that due to time restraints the story is almost always changed from book to screen, but this really is an example of mass changes. The way the characters meet is different, there are many characters missing in the movie who are truly integral for the story and, most importantly, the ending is different.
Having said this though, I enjoy both equally. The story really has been changed enough to almost make it feel like two different stories being told.
Both manage to have a happy ending, even though both endings are completely unalike.
One comment I do have to say is that the character Jack, the heart throb of the story, is a lot better in the movie. He may not be as believable in the movie, but it does make for a nicer ending. In the movie he is a kind young man who makes a mistake, whereas in the book (without giving too much away) he turns out to be a bit of a cad. As I read I missed the heart throb which I had been swooning over for years.
The questions is would I change the book Jack or the movie Jack? As nice as the film Jack is, I think he is the one I would change. Before I read the book I never would have thought this, but I think the ending of the book is, not only more realistic, but more empowering for Benny.
My Recommendation; Read the book and see the movie. I enjoy both and I believe most would enjoy both. If you try to compare and contrast them too much you could quite easily kill both of them, but if you appreciate each for the different ways they tell the story you will really enjoy them.
Happy Reading and Viewing!