Tag Archives: david baldacci

Conversion to TV

Phil: A couple of years ago (doesn’t time fly), Candice reviewed a book I’d passed on to her – The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. It’s a heartwarming tale set on a cross-country train in the USA. We both enjoyed it.

I hadn’t twigged that the book has been turned into a movie. But it has. So I watched it.

The first thing to realise is that the studio responsible for this is Hallmark. The people who make the greetings cards. As such, you won’t be surprised that the result is a gritty expose of life for struggling railroad workers forced to give up the festive season with their families to mend track.

No, of course it isn’t.

This is comfort TV. You don’t watch it, you wallow as though in a nice, warm bath.

The first change is that our journalist hero is taking the train as a promise to his father, and not because he’d been banned from flying for an air rage incident. This isn’t essential to the story, although anyone trying the book, or reading the excerpt on the Hallmark website, might be surprised to find this out.

A few characters have vanished, but more due to the pressure of time than anything else. Max Powers has an assistant in the book, but not the film. I didn’t miss him.

Perhaps the biggest change is the removal of the jeopardy when Tom and Elenor head out into the snow when the train gets stuck. The book really places them in danger and provides a pivot for their love story. In the film, they get a bit lost, then find a remote ranch and return to the train in a horse-drawn sledge. This apparently causes all the snow to melt or at least it’s pretty much gone in the next scene.

The movie doesn’t need to place them in jeopardy to make the characters realise their true feelings because it’s signposted from the start that they will fall in love again. There’s a bit of bickering, but almost every other character says, “Get back together you pair of muppets” (I paraphrase, but you get the gist).

Don’t get me wrong, the book is unlike all other Baldacci output in that’s a heart-warming tale from the off. You know what’s going to happen. No-one dies.

The film takes this and adds shmaltz. At one point the bartender offers a hot chocolate and asks “One candy cane or two?”. I’m thinking “Sugarcanes in hot chocolate? Noooo. You’d be bouncing off the walls!” but it’s a perfect allegory for the work whoever turned the book into screenplay had to do.

Despite this, it’s not a terrible film You need to be in the mood for it in the same way you need to be in the mood to consume endless Christmas food, but then that’s what the festive season is all about, isn’t it?  I do wonder what the author made of it though.


Leave a comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

History repeats itself


Phil: Life is funny isn’t it?

Many years ago, I used to be an obsessive visitor to my little local library. I’d head straight into the children’s section and delight in picking interesting looking books from the shelves. My default choice would be stories of the Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I read each book more than once. The Kirrin Island one never seemed popular with other borrowers so I know it cam home with me many times in lieu of anything better.

Decades later, I’m back.

This time the reading is rather more adult. Candice introduced me to David Baldacci and I find that there are several of his books on the shelf. I know I’m going to work my way through all these.

But I can. That’s what’s so wonderful about a library. And that hasn’t changed in years.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Phil

The Target by David Baldacci

Candice: I have just finished this book by David Baldacci.  I’ve read a few of his over the years after picking up ‘Last Man Standing’ in a charity shop and thinking ‘I like this’. So when I saw this and fancied something to read I snapped it up.

The problem these days is he’s written a lot of books and he actually has a number of series running with different characters, so dipping into this one I realised after a while I probably needed to read some of the other books about these characters to really understand their story. I wouldn’t say it was totally detrimental to the book but it didn’t help.

The premise of this one is around two special forces American government operatives whose job is to go in and sort out the jobs that no one else will do.  Will Robie and Jessica Reel are there to do the messy jobs, and every job they do they may or may not return from.  It seems that they met on a previous job where Will saved Jessica’s life, and through out the book there is a current of potential love interest between the two.

The interesting thing about the book is that, there is one story that runs through out around a plan to over throw the Korean government, but instead it building to one big event they are sent to save the day, do it, come back and then are sent to save the day again.  So I got a bit confused as I thought, oh that’s the end, oh but it’s not as there are more pages in the book. It felt like I was reading a collection of short stories instead of one book, which meant I didn’t really connect with it as well as lots of small peaks before a big finish. I think one of the reviews of this book says its like Mission Impossible, and I think that sums it up well.  There are so many big flourishes and places where they nearly die and then are saved. Its like he sat down and had so many ideas he decided to shoe horn them into one book rather than save them for another.

Again, it probably would have helped if this had been read while lying on a sunlounger so I could get into it all in one go, rather than in small chunks so I lost the plot along the way.

I shall go back to Mr Baldacci but probably a different series as if this is his style for these characters, its not my cup of tea.

Leave a comment

Filed under Candice, Writing