I recently read The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I had been a little stumped with the prompt for the Pop Sugar Challenge to read “A Book Made into a Movie You’ve Already Seen.” I almost always read the book first if I know there is one. But, in this case, I hadn’t read the book, but I did see the movie within a year or so of when it came out. This book might also count for the Read Harder Prompts of “A book set in or about a BRICS country (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Africa),” or “A book of colonial or post-colonial literature.” But, it kind of feels like both of those should be books written by an actual person from the said country, not by an Englishwoman who happened to set her book in India. The whole point is to branch out my reading life after all.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach is a very entertaining book. It introduces us to the various characters one at a time and then brings them together at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I feel like I find this story more inspiring now that I did when I saw the movie six or seven years ago. I guess because I feel closer to the age of the retirees, I can empathize with them even more. Now my parents are the age of some of the characters in this book. I am only a few years away from being an empty-nester, rather than a parent of young children. It’s crazy how much a perspective can change in a few short years.
The book features characters that are not in the movie. In some cases, they have moved storylines to different characters and some of the storylines still appear in the movie. In other cases, they have just cut characters and storylines completely. For whatever reason, I have paid more attention to film adaptation lately. I noticed choices made in adapting Ready Player One to a movie that I feel like I would not have noticed a few years ago. At any rate, the story has been tightened up a little bit for the movie. It makes sense that the screenwriter would have to tighten up the book a bit, it takes longer to read the book than to watch the movie, even accounting for the shorthand of conveying written description visually in a fraction of the time.
As I was reading the book, I kind of remembered who had been in the movie, but I couldn’t remember who played which character, so about halfway through I visited IMDB. I was surprised that Maggie Smith played the working class Muriel. In recent years she is so associated with Downton Abbey in my mind, and even Professor McGonagall behaves in a very upper-class way. So, on rewatching the movie after finishing the book that was very jarring to me. Not that she wasn’t fantastic in the movie, it just didn’t fit the current image I have of Maggie Smith.,
The story covers a lot of life’s trials and tribulations. The movie has more focus on the trials and tribulations of retiree’s than even the book, with the extra young romance thrown in (to keep the young people watching I guess). Overall, both leave me with a hopeful feeling that it’s never too late to find a life that is fulfilling and exciting. The people who came to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came for various reasons, but they all found a measure of peace and fulfillment and a family that they created for themselves. It resonates with me as I am preparing to watch my kids graduate high school over the next couple of years and then figure out what I do next. It’s comforting to see people older than me finding a new life and new purpose, even if those people are fictional.
As an aside, I also enjoyed The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the movie sequel that I hadn’t yet watched until last week.
So, read The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and watch the movie again, watch the sequel to the movie if you haven’t. I recommend all of them. I would definitely read more books by Deborah Moggach, Marigold Hotel was an engrossing read that passed very quickly, and I would guess her other books would be as well-written as this was.