After seeing the movie, A Good Year, (which has only just been released in Australia) I wanted to read the book of the same name by Peter Mayle (Random House, 2004). There were some nice touches in the movie and I wanted to know if they were in the book. I was disappointed to discover they were not.
I must be one of those rare people that often prefers the film over the book which is surprising since I’m such a book lover. However the truth is I read mostly non-fiction and find the descriptive passages in fiction books quite boring. So I have to say I preferred the film version of A Good Year to the book it is based on.
The book begins with the rather large coincidence that Max Skinner loses his job the same day he receives a letter in the mail telling him he has inherited his Uncle Henry’s property in the south of France. The film is much more realistic in that he is visiting the property when he receives news he has been suspended from his job.
In the film there are a lot of flashbacks to Max Skinner’s (played by Russell Crowe) childhood. These give a great insight into Uncle Henry’s character and also to some of the influences that shaped Max’s life. Unfortunately these were completely absence in the book.
In both the book and the film Max has to make the decision of whether to return to London or live on his uncle’s property. Again I think this is handled better in the film because it creates tension between two viable options. In the book it is really a non decision because he has no job to return to.
I also enjoyed the humour and romantic touches that had been added to the film.