Ok, so I am confused. I heard that there was a great first book written by Elinor Lipman called Then She Found Me (1990). It tells the story of a 36 year-old high school Latin teacher named April Epner, who was adopted as a baby by a couple who had survived the Holocaust. She has never married, has a fairly distant but caring relationship with her younger brother (Freddie, also adopted)…..we are told he is a gorgoeus hunk who indescriminately beds any women within reaching distance…she has a few friends from work, but is otherwise fairly lonely and missing her parents who have recently passed on. Out of the blue, her birth mother comes into her life….a fairly obnoxious and quite famous tv talk-show host….telling her that she is actually the illegitimate daughter of John F. Kennedy, the result of a few mad months of passion, after which he abandoned her upon learning of the impending child. She takes all this information as cause to research her roots and finds the school librarian (Dwight) a great (and very interested!) ally. He is portrayed as very tall, very geeky, quite unattracive and a source for ongoing humor among faculty and students. And then, of course, her REAL birth father shows up, obviously not JFK, bringing a whole new dimension to April’s family dynamics. So much for the story…I leave it to the reader to decide if they want to read any more. I will say that I enjoyed the book…but after just having finished a close reading of both Emma and Northanger Abbey, this seemed a sorry substitute. But forever willing to give the writer her/his just due, I plodded on because in the end I did really care enough about April to want to see what happens to her and her mother, and of course, the librarian! And I should add that the real reason I picked up this book was because I knew that it was being made into a movie with Helen Hunt (both starring in but also directing her first feature film)….Bette Midler, and Colin Firth…and therein lies the draw! Who can resist a Colin Firth movie….??!
So fast foward….the movie is due out April 25th. I was a bit mystified after finishing the book, as to who actually Colin would be playing…the gorgeous brother or the geeky librarian?? Not a good fit for either…we want our Colin as the romantic lead, do we not?? But being a librarian, I was all for him playing the geeky fellow who turns out to be a prince behind those glasses and shuushhing sounds!…
But alas! as Hollywood does so well, there is nothing of the book to be found in the movie….! I have just watched the trailer and this is the basic plot synopsis: April, whose adoptive mother is still alive, inexplicably decides to get married to a do-nothing, self-absorbed fellow (Matthew Broderick); her real mother (Bette Midler) shows up wanting to have a relationship and tells her that her father was Steve McQueen; April’s husband decides to leave her because he is bored; she meets the father (Frank, played by Colin) of one of her students, who expresses interest in getting to know her; she asks him out on a date, they click; her husband wants her back, she sleeps with him, she gets pregnant, and we do not know who the father is, but therein lies the story’s hook…..will she end up with Colin or Matthew? and all through this her new found mother brings great trouble as well as comfort into her life….I get all this from the trailer…it is called a dramady. Colin is supposed to throw wild fits and therefore appear to be an unstable lover and thus perhaps not the best father of her child, etc, etc… So I ask you, if you read my first paragraph, is there anything in this movie that sounds like the book??? yikes! Steve McQueen??? (but please note that there is this interesting bit of literary trivia in the movie: Salman Rushdie plays the gynecologist!)
So I leave further discussion for after actually seeing the movie, for who in their right mind would miss Colin Firth in any sort of movie??, though I really was looking forward to seeing him as the geeky librarian….! We Janeites can certainly see how easy it is for movies to NOT BE ANYTHING LIKE THE BOOK, and still get made! (not to bring Austen adaptations into the discussion, but there you have it!) Comments welcome from anyone who has seen the movie and / or read the book, though I would love to know what Ms. Lipman thinks of all this!