Tuesday, March 05, 2013

From Book to Movie: Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook (Spoilers)


Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
Viking, 2002
Romance; 256 pgs
(Movie version came out in 2005, directed by Gary David Goldberg)

My must see movie wish list is not nearly as long as my must read wish list, but occasionally the two share titles.  I am generally a person who likes to read the book before seeing the movie, and so there are quite a few movies I have not gotten to simply because I have yet to read the book.  Must Love Dogs was on that list for quite a while.  I have wanted to see the movie since it first came out, only, well, it took me awhile to get to the book.  But finally I can say I've seen the movie!  Now that I've read the book.
From the Publisher:


Forty-year-old Sarah Hurlihy, a divorced preschool teacher whose life is her classroom, is about to meet her first date in more than a decade. It was the "Loves Dogs" that hooked her in the personal ad, and now she is scanning her neighborhood café for the man with a yellow rose. And find him she does, but he's the last person on earth she expects to find there . . .



In Must Love Dogs, hilarious missteps abound. Sarah's widowed father, Billy Hurlihy, with six adult kids, is seeing at least two women. And he and Sarah aren't the only Hurlihys with romantic challenges. Her brother Michael, for one, has a rocky marriage that Mother Teresa, his St. Bernard, just may put over the edge. With self-deprecating humor and a laugh-out-loud view of the way we live now, including shar pei/Labrador crosses and a transgenerational body-piercing experience, Must Love Dogs is a perfect beach read that melts the heartache of dating with warmth and humor.

Must Love Dogs was a fun way to spend an afternoon.  I do not often read books like this, admittedly, and so think that played a big part in my delay in reading the book.  I enjoyed it just the same.  Sarah seems like the kind of person I might like to hang out with--and I just love her family.  I think they and John Anderson were perhaps my biggest draw to the book. I confess there were moments I wanted to shake Sarah and point her in the right direction, but what would be the fun in that?

I liked how the author didn't gloss over how difficult it can be to start over after a failed marriage and in starting to date again.  She also touched on ongoing marital issues and the challenges that are sometimes faced when the couple grows apart.

In the book, the reader is inside Sarah's head and sees the world through her eyes.  As a result, not much is known about her possible love interests.  The movie helps fill that out, however, complementing the book quite nicely.

The book and movie are quite different in several respects, but it didn't hurt my enjoyment of either.  There's a lot less dating and more walking through Sarah's typical day in the book than there is in the movie.  The mode of putting out an ad for dating was also different--likely a sign of the changing times from when the two were written.  The movie had more obvious funny moments while the book took a more subtle approach.  And, of course, there were some character changes-additions and cuts.

I bought into the movie romance more than I did of that in the book, but I think that is in part because the movie took it farther.  Not only is the viewer given Sarah's perspective, but we also get the perspective of her love interest, Jake Anderson (John in the book). There's also the fact that the movie and book end on slightly different notes.  One being your happily ever after type ending and the other being more of an introduction to that possibility.  If that makes sense.

One thing I liked about the book more was the portrayal of Sarah's family.  I felt like I got to know them much better in the book and I missed the interactions between Sarah and her niece in the movie.  I think their relationship was a significant part of the book and was one of the reasons I was endeared to Sarah.

Overall, I enjoyed both the book and the movie.  It's hard to say which I liked more--but for different reasons.  Both were entertaining and a nice break from the more serious topics I have been reading lately.


Rating: * (Good)

You can learn more about Claire Cook and her books on the author's website

Source: I purchased a copy of the book and movie for my own pleasure.


© 2013, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. There is a pretty good chance I would like the movie better, especially if John Cusack stars in it!

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    1. Sandy - I really like John Cusack too. :-) He definitely made the movie.

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  2. I like Cook's writing so I'd probably enjoy this book too. I haven't seen the movie.

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    1. Kathy - This was the first book I've read by the author. I enjoyed it.

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  3. I have seen both the book and movie around, but haven't read or watched either. I think it would be nice to grab the book for one of those easy armchair reads, and then follow it up with the movie. It sounds like although they made some changes, it's still worth seeing both. Great double review today!

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    1. Heather - It's a quick read. I probably should put more time in between the books and movies when I read/view both, but I'm always so excited to jump right from one to the other. :-)

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  4. I saw the movie but didn't know it was based on a book. I like the idea of Cook's books but never get around to them. I tend to reach for the darker stuff.

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    1. Ti - I heard about the movie first, and knew I wanted to see it. This definitely was different from what I usually read. I've been trying to branch out a little more this year.

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  5. I started this movie once and quickly lost interest and turned it off. I don't remember why. maybe I'll give it -- or the novel -- another go sometime. :-)

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    1. Steph - I am a fan of romantic comedies, but wouldn't count this among my favorites. I liked it, but it's not one that stands out for me.

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  6. I haven't read the book but I adore the movie!!! It's always good to take a break every once in a while with something light and fun!

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    1. Staci - I agree! It's kind of refreshing to take a break like this. :-) I am a big fan of John Cusack, and so really wanted to see the movie.

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  7. I've not heard of this, but I love the cliff-hanger at the end of the story summary! I'm tempted to go spoil it for myself and then find a copy of the movie. I quite like the sound of the movie's ending over the book's, the way it would leave things open to interpretation (even if by reading the book it's all finished nicely).

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    1. Charlie - It's actually the book that leaves a little more to the imagination, but I know what you mean. I think in this case, the book ending fit perfectly with the story and characters given the place they were in their lives. The movie ending, with a bit more closure, worked for that medium though--and I'm glad the writers did it the way they did.

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  8. I've enjoyed this movie a couple of times (now that you've seen it, you'll notice it's a tv every few months!) but I've never read the book. I'm going to have to do that!

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    1. Lisa - While watching the movie, I was sure I'd seen bits and pieces of it before. Probably when it was on television, like you said.

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  9. I always prefer to read the book and then see the movie so since I saw the movie already I had not planned to read the book. It sounds like the book is different enough that I'd like to read it. I actually really liked the movie. It was predictable but in a feel good sort of way.

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    1. Kathleen - Yes, they are very similar, but they have a slightly different feel to them and I think are different enough you might enjoy both.

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  10. It was pre-blogging when I was first introduced to Claire Cook. Her part of Mass isn't too far from where I live but I don't get to her south shore very often. Fun book fun movie and of course, as a dog owner, one MUST love dogs!!

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    1. Care - Yes, one must! :-) I think that's what first drew me to the movie and book--I do love dogs.

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  11. I've only seen the movie. Love Diane and John, but the movie fell just a bit flat for me. Not enough love there to make me want to read the book.

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    1. Stacy - It wasn't one of the better romantic comedies. I enjoyed it though. I liked that the characters were older. It's more common to find older couples in romantic comedies now, but back then it wasn't as much so.

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