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Abridged books on the radio

(5 Posts)
Eloethan Thu 23-May-13 00:39:06

Radio 4 are doing "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" by Anne Tyler this week (at the end of Woman's Hour). It's one of my favourite books, but, having read the full version, I'm not sure shortening books in this way does them justice. Anne Tyler's books are very character driven and I find that without allowing time for their development, they don't come across quite as convincingly. Do others think this about abridged books?

Having said that, I really enjoyed "Dear Lupin" which they did a couple of months or so ago, and actually went out and bought the book as well - but this is solely a collection of letters so "flow" isn't such an issue.

FlicketyB Thu 23-May-13 16:33:31

The problem facing editors abridging books for reading, like dramatists adapting books for stage or screen is time. To read the whole book would take weeks, if not months, so they have, so to speak, to cut to the chase and just follow the plot.

I think this is why adapting Jane Austen's for stage, screen or radio is so popular. Her books are plot driven with few sub plots and it is easy to reduce the story to its key elements and dramatise that. Trollope and Dickens are popular for the same reasons, although they do have a lot of subplots, but these can usually be excised without damaging the main plot.

The difficulty comes with books, like Anne Tyler's and many other modern writers where the development of the character is key to the book, or where the characters have a rich interior life. To cut to the plot is often means removing what makes the book special. An interesting author is Mrs Gaskell, where 'Wives and Daughters', a predominantly plot driven book has been successfully adapted for different media several times, while 'North and South', a more character interior and emotion based booked has never, in my mind, been successfully dramatized.

NannaB Thu 23-May-13 17:34:12

I am so enjoying this serial that it has made me want to read the book and others by Anne Tyler. We often buy books after hearing them on the radio. Incidentally, my OH is reading The Killing, which was written after the TV series which we didn't get to watch, and he is really enjoying it. I cant wait for him to finish, then I will read it. (Apologies for waffling on).

Eloethan Fri 24-May-13 00:55:54

NannaB I'm glad to hear the adaptation hasn't put you off reading Anne Tyler. I like her books so much that I'm always eager to sing her praises. (I think her earlier ones are the best though - "The Accidental Tourist" "Breathing Lessons" "Saint Maybe" for instance).

Ariadne Fri 24-May-13 04:32:30

"Saint Maybe" is my favourite Ann Tyler book. She writes so economically but her characters are real.