Streaming Sunday features TV series or movies adapted from books I’ve read, offered on at least one streaming service and I’ve watched.
The Virgin River TV series was released on Netflix December 2019 and is based on the book series of the same name written by Robyn Carr. Currently there are three seasons available to view. I read the books over ten years ago and the stories still rank as one of my top ten favorites in the contemporary romance genre. I fell in love with the strong sense of community and the mountain setting. The characters are so well developed and etched in my brain that to this day when one is mentioned, I have clear recollections about them. Martin Henderson and Alexandra Breckenridge play those leads and I was stunned when the announcement about their casting was released because they looked almost exactly how I’d pictured them.
The book community went nuts when it was announced that Netflix was developing the TV series based on Carr’s very popular book series. Jack Sheridan and Melinda (Mel) Monroe are the anchors in both the books and the TV series and their love story was captured in the first book. While the TV series has captured the essence of the book characters and associated romances, it’s taken a much different path with the storylines. Most notable is the Jack/Mel/Charmaine debacle.
In the book, Charmaine was just a minor footnote after Mel came to town. In the TV series, she’s the source of major drama and highly unlikable, unlike her book twin. We’re waiting for Season #4 and this mess is still unresolved. Those who loved the books hate this storyline, me included, and are hoping to see it end…now. Not sure of the receptivity by those new to the stories. I would imagine it’s more entertaining as they might not be as invested in Mel & Jack.
One of the elements from the book adapted skillfully in the TV series is the use of multiple storylines that make for a richer story experience. There’s an outstanding secondary cast, too, with equally compelling stories and situations that make this binge worthy. Try as I might to take my time, I inhaled each season (three to date) as soon as they were released. I actually rewatched the previous season when the next was released. Another wonderful element is that setting. It’s beautifully described in the books but I struggled to adequately picture them in my head. The TV series created a lush setting for the town of Virgin River and some of the vistas just take my breath away! It makes me want to pack up and move to this town, which is what I also experienced while reading the books.
Three seasons in and the TV series isn’t following the book pattern where each represents one of the books distinctly. However, the main characters from those stories are subtly being woven in and meshed with existing plot lines and, I have to admit, I’m enjoying this approach. But, I come from the point of view that what may work well in a book may not translate well on screen so I’m wired to be flexible. Some of my friends in the book community aren’t as forgiving.
I’m loving this adaptation of my beloved book series, despite my issues with all things Charmaine. I read the books so long ago and miss the community and characters. This series brought them back to life, wonderfully, and I’m a big fan of both. Should you read the books before starting the series, or at least the first book? I don’t think you have to but I’d recommend reading that first book. You’ll quickly fall in love with the written words but I’d pause and finish the TV series before proceeding.
Season 4 (12 episodes) is scheduled for Netflix release on July 20, 2022!