First I saw the movie, the gist of which I thought at the time to be the touching transformation of the rebellious and sullen 17 year old Alex into a surrogate mother to her blossoming 10 year old sister Scottie. George Clooney was just the right choice to portray Matt, father to the two girls. He was funny, and perplexed, and ever respectful of his unfaithful wife who lay comatose from a boating accident. I look for emotion in my movie choices.
Then I read the book. It was better than the movie because the movie missed the key reason why Matt made the decision he did in hanging on to the ancestral land that he was shepherding. In reading, I formed a deep respect for author Hemming’s use of language and understanding of the teenagers in the movie, Alex and her friend Sid. I also appreciated Hemming’s skill as she seamlessly glided back and forth between advancing the story while filling in the backstory, avoiding any flashbacks.
Then I listened to the audio book, and was delighted to get an even deeper appreciation for the journey that Matt made, growing into his role as father to his children. It’s a thoroughly engaging story, ultimately arriving at the moment when Matt forgives his unworthy dying wife. It seems morose when I write it down here, but this is a funny, and affecting story that rings true from beginning to end.