Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Glad Book


Written by: Eleanor H. Porter

Released: 1913 by Barbour Publishing, Incorporated

Summary: Soon after the eleven-year-old Pollyanna Whittier is left an orphan, she is sent to live with her rich Aunt Polly in Beldingsville, Vermont. Pollyanna’s aunt is a strict and dutiful woman she doesn’t even know. Aunt Polly puts Pollyanna in a tiny attic room where she hopes Pollyanna will be out of the way. But Pollyanna is the kind of girl who can always find something to be happy about, no matter how sad life may seem at the time. She calls it "playing the glad game." Soon everyone around this remarkable girl, from John Pendleton, a rich but lonely bachelor, to Aunt Polly herself, falls under her special spell.
Until only day something so terrible happens that even Pollyanna doesn’t know how to feel glad anymore

Ok, I have to admit that I didn’t really like this book. It’s been one that I’ve had on my bookshelf for a while and I never got around to reading it because better things came up to read. However, being a huge fan of the Disney movie from when I was younger, I had bought the book a while ago at a used book store for a few dollars and I finally decided that enough was enough; I was going to read this book.

Let’s start by saying that I like the movie better. MUCH better. The movie seemed to tie up so many semi-loose ends that the book has and it develops the characters so much more – which is odd considering that the book is almost always the superior of the two. I mean, Jimmy Bean (I laugh at the alcohol reference and wonder which came first) is barely mentioned within the book and doesn’t play as large a role as I thought he would. Nancy, too, is more developed in the movie and the entire staff is personified better.

I think that what really bugs me about the book is the language. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a foul word to be found, but the way that the characters talk – a ploy to make them seem “more their station” I’m guessing – I hated reading it. While I realize that not everyone has perfect diction, and sometimes within books said diction is altered to reflect a specific character’s lot in life, it seemed as though half the time that I was reading the book I was trying to figure out what was really trying to be said.

The ending of this book seemed to be a cop-out with the last chapter being a letter from Pollyanna which tells the reader what has happened in the 10 months that have passed both to her and those who she’s close to but aren’t there. I’m all for tying up loose ends, but this didn’t seem to be done just right; hence the cop-out. It was as if the author was at her quote for pages and so she slapped together the last two pages to appease her readers. Really, an entire sequel could have been written about the events which are mentioned in the last chapter. I think that would have been a lot better. Also, the last few chapters had the introduction of several new characters which had no consequence really to the book. While I understand why they might have been thought to be needed, they came at such a surprise that I was left wondering for a few minutes whether I missed a chapter or something. I thought that it was incredibly odd and off-putting.

Something that I did like that the book had was the relationship between Pollyanna’s mother (from before she married Pollyanna’s father) and one of the male characters; to tell which one would be to give away a bit of the mystery within the book. It was nice that they included Pollyanna’s mother more than they did in the movie. I thought that it was a nice touch and it gave more of a view into the life of Miss. Polly from before her niece came to stay with her and from when she was a young girl.

The ‘glad game’ was something that was a nice thing to have throughout the book as well. It made for introducing minor characters an easier task and it was a specific topic that could be reflected back on at any given time when there needed to be filler. Or when something needed to change, or needed to be explained better. In a way, it was like a security blanket to fall back on when things got choppy, but it was still nice at the same time.

At the end of it all, I give this book a 3/10. Really, the movie was better. Wow, I never thought that I would ever write that about a book…

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