Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends has been on my ‘mean to’ list for a while and opportunity knocked as I did rounds one night at work. This book is wonderful! Maeve Binchy weaves a marvelous tale of friendship and creates characters that are so alive that their lives seemed to continue off of the page. However the movie…wamp wamp wamp! I didn’t like it at all! I realize that movies and books are different beings but sheesh! The movie seemed to ignore all of the drama and went with a quick and dirty ending.
The main characters of the book are Benny Hogan, the only daughter of the Hogans and Eve Malone, the orphaned girl who lives with the nuns. Their friendship spans through their teen years and the book picks up when they head off to college. Here they meet up a, well, circle of friends.
My comparisons of the two:
The size of Benny
Book: Benny is described as large, heavy, think etc. but in the
Movie: Minnie Driver is a little curvy but is NOT fat.
Book: The handsome doctor’s son who wants to be a lawyer
Movie: Played by Chris O’Donnell. Boo!
Book: a smarmy loser stealing money from Benny’s family’s shop. He had designs on Benny, an insurance he thought for his future.
Movie: played brilliantly by Alan Cummings. He also had designs on Benny but was just pathetic.
The friendship of Benny, Eve and Nan:
Book: The girls meet up by chance when they are involved in an accident
Movie: The girls know each other as children and reunite at university.
- Not a big problem. There was a whole subplot that gets ignored with the girls knowing each other in their youth that doesn’t take much away.
The romance of Benny and Jack Foley:
Book: While Benny is smitten with Jack she is certain that due to her large size she will never be a true contender for his affections. Jack is not sire what woman he wants but eventually chooses Benny over the others. While Benny is insecure and unsure of her chance, she still comes across as a more confident but in the
Movie: Benny is such a fat girl, always using her size and weight as an excuse to not do anything. Yes, she complained about her weight in the book but in the movie her weight dictates everything about what she does.
Eve and the Westwards:
Book: Eve is the orphaned child raised by nuns. Eve’s mother was rejected by her family, the Westwards who disliked the notion of a Westward taking up with a lowly gardener and Catholic. Eve despises these people only going to ask for help when she can find no other option to pay for school. She even rejects the cottage that the Westwards provided for her until she finds that her friends can use it but in the
Movie: The Westwards are just known as the richest family in town and they have no connection to Eve. The cottage is on the PROPERTY of the Westwards and Eve has no problem fixing it up.
Don’t stop! There is more after the break….
Book: Nan is the ice queen who is hiding her secret life as the child of a abusive alcoholic. She is uninterested in the college boys setting her sights on a big fish, Simon Westward the cousin of the family Eve despises. Upon learning that Simon is not who he presented himself to be, Nan alters her plans and sets her sights on Jack, Benny love.
Movie: Not much of a change.
Book: Upon learning that Nan has taken up with Simon Westward and then Benny’s love, Eve feels a fury so intense that she wants to physically hurt Nan! She gets to upset that she overreacts and seemingly goes after Nan with a knife which causes a near fatal accident.
Movie: Eve just seems pissed that Nan betrayed Benny and stole her boyfriend but the fire is mossing. Eve’s anger seems to be so random and unwarranted for Benny’s loss.
The Circle of Friends
Benny and Eve’s college friends played a major role in the book, setting the plot and scene for the events that led to the betrayal. They were only given a passing mention in the movie which was a pity as they circle were not just minor characters but characters who moved the plot along.
I will definitely read more of Maeve Binchy’s works but will not do myself the disservice of seeing that awful movie again.
What say YOU?
What books to films have you read/seen that left you scratching your head?
Checking the stacks,