Some comments from my March 2003 “journal entry” about the book on BookCrossing (it was that long ago?!?):
This is definitely not a quick read. The writing style is very straightforward, so that in itself is not hard to get through, but much the action is internal and the story is definitely more character- than plot-driven. I felt the central characters were well-developed and that I could understand, if not necessarily empathize with, them.
The central themes revolve around the idea that there are consequences to our actions, including the actions we take through our misunderstanding or misinterpretation of other people’s actions (think about the times you’ve jumped to a conclusion and acted on that, and learned something later that made you realize your reaction was a mistake based on a mistake). There’s also the idea that no matter how much we try to make up for those wrong actions, we may never be granted forgiveness or make reconciliation.
I found the book to be very engaging in some parts, emotionally true, and ultimately both sad and affirming. I think I won’t forget it quickly. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read it, but I’m left feeling more respect and admiration than real affection for it.
Obviously the writing-style comment doesn’t apply to the movie, but I think there was a good transition to cinematic vocabulary. The movie uses visual imagery well, and there’s aren’t a lot of long speeches. While the internal lives of characters never really translate well to film, it works here, and the storytelling is more spare and straightforward, although certain elements are played up more – the romantic ones, as might be expected. The second and third sections of the book are more blended in the movie, and I thought that worked too.
As it turned out, I remembered more of some parts of the story than I had thought, and I’d forgotten others, but they came back to me quickly. I think there’s a good likelihood that I’ll still read the book again, but I have to be honest in saying that I think the movie jogged my memory well enough that I’m not sure I’ll knock myself out to do it before my Book Club meeting on March 7th.
Oh, and a message to Keira Knightley: Please, sweetie, eat something!