Echidna or egg?

In your mind which came first?

The Echidna


The eggs

I am sure we all have a view whether it is based on science, or religion or just your own bloody-mindedness.

Personally I couldn’t care less.

What is more important is which of these came first for you?

The book?


the film?

I know that in this case the book obviously came first and Charles Dickens did not get the inspiration for The Tale of Two Cities from the film starring Dirk Bogarde, released in 1958. At least not unless he was a time traveller, and we all know that was Wells not Dickens.

What I am talking about is the order of your introduction to various pieces of literature. Did you read the book first or did you see the film/TV series and then decide to read the book.

When I was younger I often read a book and then later decided to go and see a film version. At the same time it was possible to see a TV series and then to read the book it was based on as well as others by that author.

Sometimes I have read a book and decided it was so good that any film about it would be just as delightful – only to be really disappointed.

Then again I have seen a film or TV series only to find the was based on was so banal that the screen version had really just taken the title and the names of the main characters.

As a child I devoured books and also loved to watch drama series on TV based on books. Sunday afternoon, teatime at our house coincided with the children’s drama series, often Dickens but also from books by people I had never heard of.

I can certainly recall David Copperfield, Children of the New Forest (with Warren Mitchell as Oliver Cromwell), The Count of Monte Cristo and many more.

After Dumas’ Monte Cristo was aired I found another of his books on the bookshelf in the hall – The Three Musketeers, and this was followed by its neighbour Twenty Years After.

Over the years I discovered other books from TV or film and films or TV series I have watched and then read the books.

In the main there will be differences (for better or worse) but not often does one equal the other.

That is until we began to watch the wonderful Italian TV series (subtitled) Inspector Montalbano based on the books by Andrea Camilleri.

Luca Zingaretti as Salvatore Montalbano

This was originally broadcast on BBC Four and we used to find odd episodes being shown again.

Its quirky nature saw the hero, based in a Sicilian coastal town, was not just a detective procedural programme, it also dealt with his longterm and long distance partnership with Livia, who lives somewhere halfway up mainland Italy.

The characters are well-crafted (including a comic policeman who mangles the Italian language) and their personal lives are also portrayed.

We found it so good that we tracked down all episodes on BBC iplayer and watched them in order.

The one thing that niggled, although it wasn’t serious enough to detract greatly from our enjoyment, was the way the narrative sometimes jumped leaving inexplicable gaps.

I decided I enjoyed it so much that I would have a look at the first book in the series.

As it happened the first book was not the same as the first episode. The TV team had started at the third book, The Snack Thief, and later went back to the first book, The Shape of Water.

The first in the Montalbano series

When I started that book I was immediately drawn in to the little world of Salvatore Montalbano.

I soon realised why there appeared to be gaps in the narrative.

Andrea Camilleri is a talented writer and fortunately the translator has presented an English version which does credit.

The missing sections in the TV series were filled in by Camilleri’s narrative in which he presents Montalbano’s thoughts.

What is clear is that, in the main, the TV series does present the writing of Montalbano’s creator in the way in which it was intended.

It certainly conveys the great pleasure the inspector takes in his food, especially sea food and rich desserts.

I finished that first book within 24 hours of its arrival and have since read The Terracotta Dog (second in the book series but fourth on the tv) and am now reading The Snack Thief.

Surprisingly I can immerse myself in the books and enjoy the case without thinking ahead to what I have seen.

We may have finished the TV series but there is a spinoff of six episodes about Young Montalbano which we have started watching and more than 20 books to go.

Have you read a book and then seen a film or TV series or watched a film or TV series and then read the book?

Which did you prefer?

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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