Bookish Discussions

Friday Feature: Adapting the Page: “Adore” by Doris Lessing

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I have wanted to read something by Doris Lessing for some time now and the fact that she died just last November (2013) made me sad that I have never cracked open one of her more than 50 pieces that include: novels, non-fiction, essays, poetry, short stories and even cat tales. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her generous body of work.

Then this little beauty caused me to pause at work and pull it from the shelves. A thin 70 page novella, titled Adore, among the heftier epic reads. It was originally part of a short story collection titled The Grandmothers first published in 2003. I put aside the movie adaptation cover and dove into this story about two mothers who fall in love with each other’s sons. Twenty minutes later I sat alone, stared at the cover and wished I had someone to discuss this with. So here we are!

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It opens with a waitress watching the scene between Roz and Lil (now grandmothers) with their adult sons, Tom and Ian spending a day at the beach together with their children. The waitress is jealous. Jealous of this seemingly perfect family unit, all sun kissed, jovial, good-looking, without a care in the world. But then Tom’s wife Mary bursts onto the scene with some letters she’s found and vows to never see any of them again, grabs her daughter and storms off with Ian’s wife Hannah. The waitress can’t believe this is happening. What could possibly be wrong with this “perfect” family that she desperately wants to be a part of?

The reader then gets the back story of how Roz and Lil became best friends as young girls and teens, they get married, both have sons who become like brothers, live next door to one other and the story of their close-knit relationship unfolds. Lessing’s writing is at times vague but she allows the reader to fill in the blanks with emotion and intimacy.

So then I decided to watch the movie adaptation on Netflix. Ugh. I have heard reviewers say they liked the movie more and I found that surprising. The just under two hour movie had more filler that that little novella. But I’m not here to compare the two. Of course they are going to be different. The acting wasn’t terrible but I just didn’t get the same feeling as when I read the story. So…

Has anyone read the novella “Adore” or the short stories, “The Grandmothers”?

  • What did you think? Did the relationships bother you?

  • Do you think if roles were reversed and it was  fathers who were dating each other’s daughters, it would have been frowned upon more?

  • Have you read anything by Doris Lessing?

Have you seen the movie Adore?

  • If so, did you read the short story first?

  • Were you disappointed or liked the movie more?

  • Do you think the movie took away from Lessing’s vague writing with the graphic scenes and filler content?

Any books to movies that had you left feeling disappointed?

Maybe wishing you never watched the movie to mar the visual you painted in  your head while reading?

Any movies you liked more? Or equally as the book?

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7 thoughts on “Friday Feature: Adapting the Page: “Adore” by Doris Lessing

  1. I didn’t know the movie was based on a Doris Lessing story – that might have made me interested, except that i heard so many bad things about this particular movie! I used to be scandalised by ‘age-inappropriate’ relationships but now I am an old-lady of nearly 40, I must admit I can’t help finding younger men more attractive than men my own age (except my dear husband, of course), so, I guess I can see how it happens!

    I love Doris lessing and want to read more of her books. My favourite is her epic quest Mara and Dann – it’s brilliant, I’ve read it 4 or 5 times, even though I rarely re-read books, I just love that one.

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