22 December 2006


A few posts ago I mentioned a play version of the classic television movie, The Homecoming, which was the pilot for the series The Waltons. Author Earl Hamner Jr. adapted the television movie from his novel, which, although it holds the same basic story, has more of an "edge" than the television movie. As the characters in The Waltons were softened for series TV from The Homecoming telemovie, so the movie version was softened from the novel. There is, for instance, no bus accident in the book. Olivia's parents are involved in the story rather than her husband's parents, and her mother keeps making cutting remarks about him possibly being out drinking. Clay-Boy (his name in the novel; Hamner was not able to use the original name of his family from this novel in the same "universe" as Spencer's Mountain for use in the television movie/series for legal reasons) smokes in one chapter. some vocabulary, while mild by today's schoolyard standard, is rougher than what was allowed on television in 1971.

There are several more adventures in the book than in the movie, such as Clay-Boy's encounter with an albino deer, and situations are a bit different: the giving away of gifts at the store, for instance, and the search for Clay Senior. While dealing with the hard life of these mountain people, Hamner also captures the beauty of the winter and the mountains in vivid vocabulary and gives us a real insight into the life of an Appalachian family. Worth finding for an annual read.

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