Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Doctor Zhivago Part One

I am reading this book as part of a read-along hosted over at Nonsuch Books.

I'm not sure that I have ever read a book before where the film experience has influenced my reading enjoyment so much. I am a big fan of both the David Lean version of this book as well as the TV mini series staring Kera Knightly so I was fully expecting to get swept away with the romance and imagery that I found on the screen.

Overall I have found the prose slightly devoid of conversations between characters and surprisingly not that detailed. Zhivagos and Laras early life fly by in the book whereas more time was devoted to these years in the screen versions. During most of this first part I was constantly comparing the book and the film and I worried that the film had ruined my reading experience completely.

Thankfully towards the end of part one I did manage to break free from this thinking and I began to enjoy the novel just as it is. There is a wonderful chapter which details Zhivago's train journey across Russia with his family and it is here where I finally became completely immersed in the novel and is how I hope to continue into part two.

So far I love the characters and I can believe in Zhivago and Laras love, but I am unable to say if this is because my brain is filling in gaps from the film and am therefore giving the characters more feeling and background than the actual words are showing me.

Posted by Jess


  1. I wonder if I would have liked this one better if I'd seen the movie first, because I really, really didn't get along with the book. I still haven't seen a movie version.

  2. I loved the movie version of this one so much (even though I thought that Omar Sharif was a little bit of a stretch), that I never have picked up the book.

    Usually, I have the opposite problem -- that is, I refuse to see a movie of a book that I have read and loved because I'm afraid the movie will never live up to my expectations, or worse, it will ruin the book for me.

    That is a beautiful book cover, by the way. I have not seen that version before.

  3. Oh I had no idea there was a TV mini series, I hope it makes it to Italian TV sometime as I love Doctor Zhivago and it is a long time since I read the book or saw the film.

  4. I haven't seen the movie (because I wanted to read the book first) and now I'm wondering if that would have helped. Part 1 is dragging for me, but it's encouraging to hear you say it gets better.

  5. hmm I watched (and loved) the mini series first, and when reading the book I wasn't as satisfied with Yuri and Lara's relationship in the first part. Though, the scene before he leaves her, ack, so sad.

    Alls I can say is it gets better. Hang in there :)

  6. I often find with a book a long as this one that it takes a while for things to get going. Once they do, they are worth the effort.

    It will be fun to follow your reading here. I only know the David Lean movie version.

  7. Know exactly what you must be thinking because the book bears little resemblance to the film in parts. And the lack of conversation is actually grating on me. Still looking for the ideas behind the crafting of identity here if characters are not defined by their verbal interactions??

    Hanging in there. But by a thread. :) Thanks so much for joining in!

  8. This shows the difference in our age: the film version which I so loved was the one with Omar Shariff and Julie Christie! ;) I haven't seen Keira Knightly's, nor do I much want to, as the first film and the book are sufficiently beautiful for me. I'm crazy about this love story for some reason, probably having a lot to do with the sadness of it, how much they struggled. I'm especially touched with all love stories suffering adversity.

  9. Amanda - if I hadn't had seen the film first I really think I would be struggling with this quite alot!

    Thebookgirl - I agree with you about Omar Sharif! The cover is the american version of the new translation but I actually prefer the british version.

    LindyLouMac - the mini series is years old now (Kera was only 17 at the time) but its worth getting hold of a copy if you can.

    Avid Reader - the film has enabled me to place the characters and their motivations alot more than if I was just reading the book so in my case it is really helpful.

    Toni - don't worry I have no intention of giving up! I did love the train chapters and I think I am now finally into the novel.

    C.B. James - I agree this has been slow moving but in a funny way it also hasn't. The early lives of te charaters were rushed through very quickly and didn't give me much of a background to them.

    Frances - I am so surprised by the lack of conversation actually. I mean I wonder how the relationships between Yuri and Lara is meant to develop without it? I'll be interested to see.

    Bellezza - I love this love story. I'm not sure why as lets face it, they are both married (happily!) so its seems a bit wrong but I still get swept up in it everytime I watch the film.

  10. I love that we've all been read this book in our homes and we come together and discover how similar our thoughts are - even though we're all so different. I have just got to the chapter titled 'conclusion' and suddenly feel sad not to be reading more about Yury, Lara and friends.