Book Review: The Virgin Suicides
ashley | The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides is one of those books that I’ve pretended to have read, but am actually only familiar with because of the 1999 Sofia Coppola movie starring Kirsten Dunst and heartthrob James Hartnett. I loved that movie, I thought it was so beautiful and swore I would always read the book to see how the words compared to the movie I fell in love with. 15 years later, I finally did.
The movie follows the book fairly closely, right down to actual lines, but as with all books vs movies, this one is a lot more descriptive and wordy, giving a more detailed background check into many of the characters outside of the Lisbon family. We also are given an opportunity to see how these other characters saw the Lisbon girls through their eyes, which I thought was an interesting new take on the story. Previously, we only really heard second hand through the narration.
I’m fascinated with book to movie adaptations and very particular about reading the book first, so this was kind of an experiment, going backwards. My findings were really only a reminder of why I like reading a book first. I had all the movie imagery in my head, I was anxious to see it come through in the book, but the movie flow was interrupted by the additional details in the book that the movie left out. I was annoyed by this instead of grateful for more. Had I read it first, I would have been able to build the whole picture and then added in the theatrical impressions over top it afterwards.
I did, however, like the imagery of their house and lives deteriorating as the girls were confined to their home and the family fell apart. There was a lot of descriptive detail here that I don’t remember being in the movie and I feel like it’s a great representation of the family dealing with the aftermath of such a loss. There was also a lot more closure at the end of the book than the movie, though this closure doesn’t answer any of the questions the movie left lingering.
I’m glad I finally have this one under my belt. It will always be one of my favourite movies and now I can stop pretending I read the book, too.