Adapting a book for the screen is never easy. Not only are you faced with compressing several hundred pages into a two-hour film or just a few hours of television, but every change and omission you make in service of this task may instigate protest from fans of the book. An example that leaps to mind is the omission of Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings movies, which brings forth wrath and ire from fans to this day.
As the well-worn line goes: “the book is always better.” But is it? We’d argue (only sometimes) that “the adaptation is always different” – and we even (controversially) believe that sometimes the adaptation is better. What do you think?
What’s most important is that the series retains the spirit of the book as well as the crucial elements – such as murder, mystery, small town vibes, and food (glorious food!) in the case of Recipes for Love and Murder. All of which the show does with mouthwatering aplomb.
Change (and especially omissions) are inevitable…so just what is different about the adaptation of Recipes for Love and Murder? For one thing, we get to see a lot more of Jessie’s family, which we’re very grateful for because it gave us Bronwyn and Riley played by the irrepressible Zac Wastie and Kelly Damon.
While the Tannie Maria of the book is a born and bred South African, the Tannie Maria in the show spent much of her life in Scotland. Our frustrated city-boy detective Khaya does appear in the book, but he’s gone from creamy vanilla to delicious chocolate. In the book, he’s Henk Kannemeyer, in the series, he’s Khaya Meyer…see what they did there? 😜 The show also explores the letter writers a little more, which we’re loving! And there are book fans out there who are being won over too.
When it comes to adaptations (to many things, really), you’re never going to please everyone. For those struggling (or refusing) to watch, there’s comfort in knowing that adaptations lead many to the source material, which means more discovery of the joys (and benefits) of reading. And like mum might have said about a particular item of food on the plate: how do you know you won’t like it until you try it?
Watch Recipes for Love and Murder every Sunday at 20:00 on M-Net channel 101.
Missed an episode? Catch up with DStv here.