Hi everyone! I know it’s been absolutely ages since I did one of these Book Vs Movie posts, but if you saw my 2023 goals post for Top Ten Tuesday a few weeks back, you’ll know that one of my goals was get this feature up and running again more regularly this year. I am going to try to keep it monthly, but life does sometimes get in the way so we’ll see how things go with it! Anyway, for this month’s Book Vs Movie, I’m actually going to be talking about a TV adaptation and sharing my thoughts on the BBC miniseries Life After Life and the book by Kate Atkinson.
I did read the book after I watched the TV series, so I don’t know how much that impacted my opinion as I already had the one version of the story in my mind and I have found that you do tend to prefer whichever version of the story was the first one you came across. But anyway, I’d not heard of Life After Life until I watched the TV series, so I picked it up because I had enjoyed the show and ended up somewhat disappointed. I found the book very bloated with a lot of unnecessary detail and plotlines that seemed designed merely to extend the story as long as possible past several very natural endpoints. The narrative also felt very stilted and not particularly cohesive, more like we were just moving from one vignette to the next that telling a complete story.
If you’d like to see my more detailed thoughts, you can read my review of the book here:
I enjoyed the TV adaptation! I found later from reading the novel that the TV series had streamlined a lot of the more unnecessary sections from the book (like the extended section where Ursula is living with Eva Braun and Hitler in one life!) and I think the TV series managed to keep more forward momentum than the book, the book skips around in time a lot where the TV series, whilst still sticking to the conceit that Ursula lives her life over and over again, the TV series generally moves forward each time Ursula dies with a new event further on in her next life than she left off in her last which gave it a greater sense of narrative cohesion. I also thought Thomasin McKenzie did a really great job as Ursula and made her feel less bland on screen than she did on the page.
TV or Book Judgement:
I think it’s an easy TV for me here. I did like some things about the book, I loved the conceit (obviously as I’d already seen the show) and I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook, but I feel like I just found this particular story more enjoyable in the TV format. The streamlining necessary to bring the page to the screen definitely worked in the show’s favour as it meant some of the more bloated parts of the book got cut, and the presentation of the time loop storyline in a slightly more linear manner was helpful, I felt far less confused about where we were in Ursula’s timeline in the show. If I was going to recommend a way to consume this story, I think I’d recommend the show above the book to be honest.
So there we go, that’s it for this month’s Book Vs Movie. I will be back next month, finally talking about Good Omens and its TV adaptation, like I promised you all I would years ago!