A New Discovery!

I just discovered something last week. It was an odd fate of chance because I stumbled across it while just perusing the ever-changing make-up of Netflix for a movie that wouldn’t bore me to death. I’ve complained on more than one occasion to D that I can never find anything on Netflix but TV shows, most of which I think are idiotic. Now, I am silently praising Netflix for this stellar find, and praying that it doesn’t disappear.

When I was a pre-teen, all of a sudden this book series called Heartland by Lauren Brooke became a rage at the Scholastic book fairs at my school. Each time I’d get my mom to buy me a few. I loved them. I think in the end I owned the first 15 books or so. I could connect with Amy, the main character, who is set on continuing her deceased mother’s therapy and care for abused horses on her family’s ranch in Virginia. She works alongside her grandfather and older sister.

Much to my surprise I discovered that Heartland (2007) was made into a TV series! I have since been watching at least an episode or two each day. I particularly LOVE the theme song (below) and often the show uses musical transitions that grab my attention. In all honesty, I want to listen to the theme song over and over. It just has that musical quality that soothes me.

It is a nice recreation of the book, and although I can’t remember all of the plot and story lines from the series, there are some key differences that I immediately noticed:

  • The book series is set in Virginia. Since the show debuted in Canada on the CBC network, the actors are Canadian (when they say sorry, about, or progress it is very noticeable). The show is set around the area of Hudson County. Hudson County does exist, as a county in New Jersey, which I doubt is where the show is set. It seems Hudson County is a fictionalized location, so it is unclear where the series is set, because there is a reference to “the crown” (King or Queen), but there is vast land available (complete with snow) and lots of potential oil available for drilling, making me think the US or Canada. At first I thought it was set in Canada, but I’m still undecided. IMDB lists the show’s setting as Alberta, Canada.
  • In the book, Amy’s older sister Lou is married, has a child and has a British accent, which throws people off. In the series, she is not married, has no children and does not have a British accent. Although, I’m still in season two, so Lou still has time to get married (and it was to another well-known character to Heartland). In the show, Lou is almost terrified of horses due to witnessing her father’s riding accident. Not so much in the book, as I recall. She just didn’t want to get her hand’s dirtied when she could be working the business end of the ranch (which is also true for the show).
  • In the book, Amy and Lou’s dad, Tim, is paralyzed and in a wheelchair after a riding accident. He left Amy, Lou and wife Marion not long after the accident, but comes to visit after Marion’s death. He is also remarried and has a third daughter. In the show none of this is true. He was injured in an accident (which causes Lou to be all of a sudden afraid of horses) but not paralyzed. In the show, he works at the ranch next door (and secretly since he left Marion) and tries to come back into Lou and Amy’s lives shortly after their mother’s death. Also in the show, the girls discover a letter he sent long ago to Marion wanting to make things right and become a family again.
  • In the book, grandfather Jack is supportive of Tim coming back into the girls’ lives, but in the book he is vehemently against it, even lying to the girls’ about him coming around asking and trying to run him off. There is indeed some hostility between the two, but eventually it evens out.
  • In the book, Ty dropped out of school and wants to work at Heartland. In the show, he does drop out (explained by his “criminal” behavior) and is sentenced to community service at Heartland.
  • In the book, one of Amy’s closest friends is Matt, who is the younger brother of the veterinarian (Scott) that services Heartland. In the show, there is no Matt. 😦
  • Ashley Grant (Ashley Stanton in the show) is the snobby rich girl from Green Briar (Briar Ridge in the show). Green Briar/Briar Ridge is Heartland’s rival, and Ashley is Amy’s nemesis. She is an ugly person, pressured by her high-stakes parents in the books. In the show, Briar Ridge is run by her mother alone. It’s unclear what the explanation is for her father, but Ashley makes a comment that without her mother, she’d be all alone, leading me to believe that her father is deceased.
  • In the books there is a boy named Daniel, who works as a stable hand at Nick Halliwell’s barn, and is a good friend to Amy. He now owns Storm, which used to be Amy’s horse. In the show, there is no Daniel, but Amy did have a horse named Storm that she jumped, but had to sell.
  • On the show, there is this pesky next-door-neighbor girl named Mallory. She’s really a sweetheart, and practically lives at Heartland. At times she really does. In the show, her parents are away all the time and send her to boarding school. She does not exist in the books.
  • Lisa is Ben’s aunt, and in the show she and Jack become romantically involved. I don’t recall that from the book, but I do believe that in the book she was Ben’s aunt as well.
  • Also on the show is a second stable hand named Caleb, who works at Heartland. He lives off-site and is a romantic swinging pendulum between Amy and Ashley.
  • Other minor details are changed: Ty’s last name in the book is Baldwin, on the show it is Borden; Soraya’s last name in the book is Martin, on the show it is Duval; Scott’s last name in the book is Trewin, on the show it is Cardinal.

L-R: Scott, Jack, Lou, Amy, Ty, Tim, Mallory, Caleb

Despite these differences and minor details, the show brings together only some of the essence of the book. The connection of family, friends and loyalty is definitely present and reinforced in every episode. In almost every episode, there is a scene of the family and select friends around the dinner table. Family is the focal point of the show. At first, there were several scenes about the therapy practices at Heartland, or scenes showing Amy using them. The more I’ve watched the show, the less I see this intimate connection between Amy and the horses. More often, she has a halter and lead rope on them and is standing in a round pen talking to them. I feel the horses and Marion and Amy’s cause has taken a backseat, and the romances and rivalries (and the subtle and not-so subtle story lines about them) are at the forefront.

The series seems to still be running, with new episodes and seasons being made (currently airing season 8), so I’ve got a lot to look forward to. I’m just hoping I don’t get too comfortable, settle in for the long haul, and realize there aren’t many episodes left. Don’t you hate when you realize the end is near for a good thing?

What is your favorite book-made-into-a-show/movie series? Share the differences that most annoyed you, and the similarities that endeared you! 

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