When you watch a film or TV series after reading a book, one of two things can happen, you either love the film version or hate it. This is my take on the novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith and the TV series, which has just been aired on BBC1.
A Cuckoo’s Calling is one of the books I read last summer on a friend’s recommendation and I was not disappointed. I also thoroughly enjoyed the first three episodes of the TV series which enacts this novel.
As far as I’m concerned, everything J. K. Rowling writes merits a five-star review because she is so talented at making characters and stories come to life that her novels are a pleasure to read. Thanks to her vivid descriptions, in this case writing as Robert Galbraith, I had ‘seen’ the whole novel in my mind before I watched the TV series, which was an almost perfect rendition of what I had imagined.
All the characters, major and minor come alive, almost jumping out of the pages. The only problem for me, and this is probably very personal, was that I wasn’t very interested in most of the characters involved in Strike’s investigation. He was hired by the bother of an old school friend to find out if his adopted sister, supermodel Lula’s suicide, may have been a murder. I thought it was such a pity that the author invested her talent in bringing such self-centered and mostly uninteresting characters to life.
Fortunately, the main characters, the private detective, Cormoran Strike, and his assistant or sidekick Robin Ellacott, are two extraordinary characters who made reading the novel worthwhile. I thought Cormoran was a complex and intriguing character, who will no doubt show more of his personality as the series progresses. However, Robin steals the show. She’s such a caring, clever, resourceful and engaging character, that she’s my biggest motivation to read on.
Both actors incarnate their literary counterparts brilliantly, again, Holliday Granger as Robin stands out because she’s so perfect for the part, coming across as vulnerable yet determined and sensitive yet tough. Tom Burke as Cormoran is also almost ideal, but for me, at times he came across as too attractive and young for the rugged, as well as physically and emotionally damaged, detective portrayed in the novel.
Cormoran and Robin’s relationship will obviously grow into a solid friendship, and who knows, there may be more, but first, Cormoran, who has plenty of unresolved personal issues, needs to sort himself out, physically and emotionally before he can commit to a serious long term relationship with anyone. On the other hand, Robin, who is already engaged, is not going to indulge in an occasional fling with her boss, even if she feels attracted to him.
The plot was well contrived, but again, to me it was lost on such superficial (and to me tedious) people. I’ll continue reading the series because she’s a brilliant writer, but I hope the rest of the instalments have characters and stories I can feel more invested in.
(You can watch the Trailer and some scenes on this YouTube video channel)
Regarding the television series, it was brilliant, exactly as I had imagined it. It was even better than the novel in some aspects. In the novel, the investigation was long and sagged at some points, whereas the series had a more even pace. For example, the end of the novel, where the murder, murderer, motive and method is methodically disentangled and explained by Strike, dragged a bit (after all, the reader had already figured most of it out), yet the final TV episode reduced the final scene, making it more effective.
One aspect the book conveyed far better than the series was the humour. I found it lacking in the series and brilliant in the novel. The humour, especially at the beginning of the novel had me laughing out loud, whereas the subtle humour throughout, was a breath of fresh air.
Finally, the streets, shops, stations, tubes, homes, people and weather etc. of London, as well as the fabulous music score and songs, added an extra layer of depth to the recreation of the novel.
I definitely recommend both the series and the novel, because on this occasion, the series really does complement, and in some instances even improves on the book.
I listened to the audio version on audible.
If you haven’t seen it yet and live in the UK you can watch it here:
I live in Spain, so I had to watch it on this channel for a small fee.
The second book, The Silkworm is about a novelist who has gone missing, and will be aired next Sunday at 9.00pm GMT on BBC1. This time, I’ll be doing it the other way round, I’ll be watching the series first and then reading the novel. I’ll let you know how that goes in about a month’s time, when I’ll have seen the whole series and read the book.
Happy reading and viewing!
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