Review & Guest Post ~ The French Girl by Felicia Donovan

 

When Books Go to the Movies by Felicia Donovan

            First of all, I want to thank Lori for letting me visit today on her wonderful blog, and for her kind comments about The French Girl. Lori and I had the opportunity to meet a while back, so it’s a pleasure to see you again!

Just this past weekend I watched the movie version of The Help by Kathryn Stockett. If you aren’t familiar, it’s the story of Aibileen, a forty year-old maid from Jackson, Mississippi, who introduces us to her desolate life as a maid/caretaker for privileged white women (who she also raised). Set in the turbulent sixties, Aibileen’s dialogue reflects both her keen intelligence but limited education and her unwavering love for “Baby Girl,” the young child she is so poorly paid to care for and raise. Later on, the book shifts to the perspective of Miss Skeeter, an educated young woman who breaks Southern tradition by not seeking marriage, but instead, bravely embarks on trying to chronicle the desperate lives and circumstances of “The Help.”

The Help was one of my favorite books, so I was dubious about how Hollywood would treat it. I’m happy to say that for once, I think the movie treatment equaled the quality of the written word. Though the perspective seemed somewhat different (the book features much more dialogue from the perspective of Aibileen), both were emotionally compelling and brought me to tears. I would highly recommend them both and trust me, that’s rare.

It is always interesting to me, as an author, to hear what people think of movies that are based on books. Some of my friends will almost always categorically declare that the book was better. Others will wax poetic about their love for the big screen as the story and characters come to life before their very eyes.

Sometimes Hollywood gets it right and sometimes they just don’t. I loved reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, but the movie version? Not so much.

But then again, who will ever forget the scene from Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg when “Towanda” comes out and takes on the young women who steal her spot in the parking lot? “I’m older and have INsurance…” Sometimes these classic scenes are just better captured on film.

Every writer dreams of being published. Every published author dreams of getting that film offer which comes in the form of an “option.” And “option” means that the film company wants to have exclusive rights to the possibility of developing a book into a film. It does not mean they will actually develop the project, but are willing to fork over a small amount of money to hold the rights. In fact, I have had several film companies express interest in The Black Widow Agency series of mystery-comedies which I think it would translate wonderfully to a TV series with its cast of fun characters. But nothing yet…

If ever I would like to see one of my books be developed into a movie, it would most certainly be my most recent novel, The French Girl. I write very visually, as if the scene is being played out in my mind, and my job, as a writer, is to capture that as best as I can for the reader. The story has Hollywood written all over it – a heartwarming story of a young French girl, Etoile, raised in a world of prejudice and despair who becomes orphaned and is sent to live with her distant cousin and her cousin's partner. Embraced by their love and warmly welcomed by their community of lesbian friends, Etoile slowly discovers the true meaning of family – until the state threatens to take her away. It has moments of heart wrenching emotion, joy and laughter, and a message – a very clear message that asks “How you define family? Hollywood, are you listening?

So, dear Readers, what is your experience on the “Book to Movie” train? Any that were particularly outstanding or should never have been developed in the first place?

The Book ~ 

Author: Felicia Donovan

  • Format: Kindle Edition ($2.99)
  • ASIN: B006RKRUG4
  • Available in paperback SOON!
    I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon.

    the-french-girl

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The heartwarming story of a young French girl, Etoile, raised in a world of prejudice and despair, who becomes orphaned and is sent to live with her distant cousin and her cousin's partner. Embraced by their love and warmly welcomed by their community of lesbian friends, Etoile slowly discovers the true meaning of family – until the state abruptly threathens to take her away.

My thoughts ~ 

In the tiny town of Cote Nouveau, Massachusetts, Etoile, and her older sister, Anais, live a rough life with their mother, a woman who prefers the bottle to her own children. Their father, a fisherman, was lost at sea years ago.  They make do with what they have and watch out for each other. Especially when word spreads that the county lady is making her rounds.  Then a tragic accident occurs, and the girls are forced to live apart as Anais is not old enough to take care of Etoile on her own.  Anais is sent to a school run by nuns, while Etoile is sent to New Hampshire to live with a cousin, Giselle, and her partner, Jean.

Giselle and Jean welcome Etoile into their home with open arms. While Giselle takes to mothering the precocious Etoile right away, it takes a while for Jean to find her own mothering gene. But once she does, the pair are virtually inseperable.  The love, guidance, understanding, and attention they, along with their friends, show Etoile is instantaneous. It is as if she was born to them, as if she were meant to be a part of their immediate family, as if she were coming home.

But unfortunately not everything is as perfect as it seems. Even though Etoile writes to Anais often, she still misses her deeply, cherishing the visits she has with her.  Etoile still doesn’t know the whole truth about what happened to her mother, Anais has her own secret that she’s keeping. Taking place in the late 70’s, there are those that aren’t happy to see Giselle and Jean raising a child together.  While Giselle and Jean have a large network of friends, their “type” is still not widely accepted. Children are supposed to have a mother and a father, not two mothers. And when the state tries to take Etoile away, well, hell hath no fury like these women scorned.

The French Girl is a beautifully written story of one little girl’s journey from inattentive mothering to unconditional, without reservation, instantaneous bonding. The author writes with such passion, such heart, that it is so easy to get caught up in this magnificent story  that it becomes not about whether there are two mommies or  two daddies, or a mommy and daddy in the home, but rather about the love, compassion, understanding, and guidance that the child is given. And that it truly does take a village to raise a child. The author does an amazing job of telling a story with such a difficult subject matter that you can actually feel the character’s joy, and your heart will break with their sorrow.
 
You will remember this book long after you finish the last word. 
 

About the author ~

Felicia (pronounced Fa-lish-a) developed an early reputation for telling tales, particularly about her three older siblings. She apologizes profusely for any harmful intent this may have caused and was subsequently encouraged by her mother, a freelance writer, to put her overly active imagination to better use.

Felicia began writing stories and poems early on and completed her first novel by the time she graduated from high school. She subsequently joined her college paper and won the prestigious Scripps-Howard Foundation Journalism Scholarship based on her writing submissions. After obtaining a Bachelor's in English Education, Felicia went on to become a teacher and in her educational career, was published numerous times for professional articles, but always felt compelled to return to the joy of writing fiction.  

Felicia left teaching to join a New England-based Police Department where she was first introduced to the fascinating world of computer forensics. She still works in the law enforcement field in the private sector and continues to write. 

Felicia resides in the bucolic countryside of New England. She has a deep affection for her family, her friends, fine chocolates and well-spun tales.

Visit Felicia's website
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Email ~ felicia AT feliciadonovan DOT com

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Comments

  1. Donna Rondo says:

    sounds very interesting and like a great read I would enjoy winning this book so I can read it at my leisure. Thanks to Lori maybe I can! Hope to win this one.

  2. Thanks again, Lori, for this. Ironically, just this morning I saw that my own state of NH (where The French Girl was based), has introduced a bill before the legislature that would let people refuse services to same-sex couples based on religious or conscience reasons. It evoked scenes in “The Help” – but that story was based in the ’60s. Here we are in 2012 and we’re fighting the same battle yet again. So sad…

    Read more: http://www.wmur.com/news/30303977/detail.html#ixzz1kZQAbSqd

  3. mamabunny13 says:

    This one is going on my wish list! Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. Rebecca Shore says:

    I read The French Girl on Kindle not too long ago and just heard it’s coming out in paperback. Can’t wait. I’m going to give this as a gift to several of my friends and family members. I highly recommend it!

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