“There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months… even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever.”
These lines are just as deceptive as is the book. Its not a bad book but very misleading. It promises to be humorous and a fun read but that’s a far cry. Having the watched the movie by the same name, featuring Robin Williams, I half expected the book to be as enjoyable as the movie. But I was in for a rude shock. Anne Fine’s book lacks the charm that we witness in the movie.
The book is incredibly sad and callous, as the children in the story are thrown around through their parents’ messy divorce. And like me if you’ve ever seen the Robin Williams film version, this book will be a big disappointment.
The story of Miranda and Daniel is one that many children face today. More so because children have to deal with the divorce of their parents. The only thing that made the book endurable was the realistic writing. You come across real arguments between the parents that would flare up ugly in front of the children, just like in real life. The children were forced to find coping mechanisms to handle the stress and trauma. The movie story line and book story line do cross at certain points and use certain lines in the book in the movie.
Daniel and Miranda Hilliard are recently divorced, and pretty much hate each others guts. Instead of allowing Daniel to spend time with the children after school, Miranda places an ad looking for a housekeeper/babysitter. Daniel changes a number on the ad and poses as an old lady to take up the position.
In the movie, Robin Williams brings warmth and charm to Mrs. Doubtfire. But the book is devoid of sentiments. The parents constantly argue in front of the children, Daniel repeatedly talks about how he’d love to murder Miranda. Miranda on the other hand, slates him and mocks him. And the result of all this you may ask: the children cry and cower together because they’re so sick of their parents fighting. In the book, the kids know that Mrs. Doubtfire is Daniel straight away (probably because his disguise consists of a turban, wellingtons and some foundation). Daniel is horrible as he calls Christopher a “little bastard” and “a little worm”. Miranda is equally rotten – telling the children awful age-inappropriate stories about how many times Daniel has messed up. She and Daniel play the children like pawns on a chessboard.
Fine was aiming for realism by writing about a sadly common occurring family issue. But it pales now in comparison to the film, and the humour fell flat. It seems to be written for the parents rather than children. Which perhaps explains the adult humour in the book.