The Novella Club discussion

Group reads > Miracle on 34th Street - Dec 2015 group read

Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies - Davies wrote the original story (and won an Oscar) and then expanded his story to a novella. Do you believe in Santa Claus? Can you prove he DOESN'T exist? Both the book and the film are delightful. Enjoy.

message 2: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Well I started it. And the first thing I notice is that when someone does tell rather than show, it should feel like story telling. I should feel like someone is sitting there just spinnin' a yarn. I think sometimes our general writing public emphasizes the show-don't-tell device a little too much. I DO like to be told a story. Cozying in for a little more reading before I go make supper...

message 3: by Buck (last edited Dec 01, 2015 05:47PM) (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments I'll be joining you late this month. My spouse loves Christmas, and Christmas stories. We'll be driving Upnorth to visit our families for Christmas. This will be one of our audiobooks that we will hear on the road. Her new car has bluetooth, which makes listening so much easier - I don't have to go to the library for CDs. I have found Classics of Childhood, Vol. 3 which includes: "The Little Match Girl" read by Robby Benson, "Waldo, Tell Me about Christmas" read by Ralph Waite, "Santasaurus" read by Jonathan Winters, "The History of Christmas" read by Jack Lemmon, "The Gift of the Magi" read by Robby Benson, and "Miracle on 34th Street" read by Carl Reiner.

message 4: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) That sounds cool.

message 5: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
The road trip sounds like it'll be fun Buck.

I agree Lora. I'm reading Goodnight Mister Tom and it's a good old fashioned story - sturdy - I reading slowly (flu bug is back so I keep falling to sleep).

RE: Miracle on 34th Street - this story has always been a favorite. I came to the book only in recent years - it is a rather direct translation of the film script. "It's a Wonderful Life" and the "A Christmas Carol" (1951 version) are great, "White Christmas" too - but "Miracle on the 34th Street" has always been my favorite Christmas classic. It also features one of the great villains IMO.

message 6: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Just discovered one of my daughters has never seen Miracle on 34th street all the way through. It's happening this week or so!

message 7: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I wish I could see it again - for the first time.

message 8: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) That's one of those fleeting things that we never recognize as they are happening, isn't it? The closest I can get is to either share an old experience with someone young and new, and therefore enjoy seeing them experience it, or to not watch a movie/ read a book for a long time, until memory fades, until half of it is strange, and almost like new, when I watch it again.
The other side of the coin, I am realizing, is that you never know when this is the last time you will ever do a certain thing. The last time you and your daughter stay up late in her room giggling, or the last time she wants a tea party, or the last time she hugs you the way a child does. I am living differently as those last times have stacked up a bit. I hope to enjoy the moment I am given, no matter what. Just be in it, feel the stir of old wonder, see a new layer I could not have recognized when I was younger.
I am enjoying the book. The writing is a bit thin and light, but I know this was taken from a screenplay. And it has many soft glowing sentiments in it to appeal to me.
I do see scenes from the movie unfolding before my eyes as I read- does anyone else? And I get to soak up some old fashioned Christmas. Thank God.

message 9: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
It was impossible for scenes from the film not to play before my eyes.

But you can't go home again - meaning simply that you can't return to same place - it only exists in our memory and when we return we are both changed by our experience. Haven't you ever watched an old movie or read an old book that you just loved only to find that is doesn't hold the same fascination or that you simply don't appreciate it as much now?

message 10: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Yes! Finding that some old favorite no longer holds the same appeal- that has become a regular way of measuring how much I change as time goes by.
I dread the day this might happen to Jane Eyre.
My mom is 88 years old now, and in some ways she has changed radically. In other ways, she has deepened in the familiar ways she has always had. Thus is the human spirit, I suppose. It makes for poetry and prose, something glimpsed but hard to firmly grasp.

message 11: by Kay (new)

Kay Cashman | 5 comments Lora,
I can't imagine outgrowing Jane Eyre. Some characters and books never get old.
The Harry Potter books have entertained several generations of my family; my great-grandchildren are now discovering them. It's wonderful to see stories bridge the gap between four generations.

message 12: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Kay wrote: "Lora,
I can't imagine outgrowing Jane Eyre. Some characters and books never get old.
The Harry Potter books have entertained several generations of my family; my great-grandchildren are now discove..."

I think the arts have a way of bridging those gaps better than almost anything. I remember coming home from my summer job as an usher at the Hollywood Bowl and telling my mother what a great singers Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughn and Rosemary Clooney were - then she gave me a lesson in popular song - we talked for hours - and I've always had a special place in my heart for those artists and groups like Bette Midler and The Manhattan Transfer who embraced and re-introduced classics from the American songbook to new generations.

Films to can bring us together - especially at Christmas. But books do it especially well. "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Fahrenheit 451," "The Lord of the Flies" and other books most of us read in school open doors of conversation between the generations. Books like "Harry Potter" bring generations together at the same time with books being read by young and old at the same time.

message 13: by Kay (new)

Kay Cashman | 5 comments Ivan,
Well said. I have friends who have trouble knowing what to say to their grandchildren, how to keep the children engaged And off their iPhones).
I have suggested reading series such as Harry Potter, but I have never recommended the books you listed, and I know most of my grandchildren have read them, mainly through class assignments. I will pass on the titles to my friends, along with a few more I can think of.Thank you!

message 14: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) One of these days I will re-read the HP books. I also have kept the Narnia set out. Every ten years I read that and it is way different for me each time because I am a different person- in a good way.

message 15: by Kay (new)

Kay Cashman | 5 comments I find the same to be true with The Hobbit and the trilogy that follows.

message 16: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Yes, the Narnia books. I re-read Prince Caspian again recently. Those are among my favorite books.

message 17: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Let's talk about Granville Sawyer. To my way of thinking he is one of the lowest forms of villain - because he's ordinary, common. He exists in "real" life. The kind of person who abuses his power and authority to manipulate, control and ruin people's lives. He is kin to Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. What he does to Kris violates the Hippocratic oath of "first do no harm."
When I first saw the film in the 1960's I was incensed when this evil character misused his position to basically imprison Kris. Thoughts?

message 18: by Kay (new)

Kay Cashman | 5 comments He's a superb villain, to be sure. Absolutely aggravating..
I noticed he generally makes the top 10 villains in various contests on websites.
I especially loved the scene in which Kringle tapped him on the head with his cane. And there was some satisfaction for the audience/readers when Macy hauled Sawyer into his office and told him to drop his charges against Kringle, threatening Sawyer with a second bump on the head!
But, of course, my absolute favorite scene was at the trial, where Sawyer got his comeuppance--finally! Macy testified and afterwards asked Sawyer if he had graduated from a correspondence school. Then Macy fired the jerk. The good guys won but it was a agonizing process to watch. Truly an excellent villain. Far better than the violent villains, which are so popular now.

message 19: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
It's because these sorts of villains are all too human and common - they are villains we know.

message 20: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) I sometimes feel for Sawyer. He was so very, very wrong. He just got his head stuck on policy at the expense of humanity, the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law, and all that. He is with us in work, church, family, or elsewhere. Worst part is, sometimes I feel as if I have strayed into Sawyer territory, at least as far as someone else's perception goes. It gets a little grey are for me sometimes. So he ends up looking like a Greek play to me.
When I'm not over thinking it, I rather enjoy seeing the pieces all fall into place to bring justice down on him. It is its own process, one we don't always get to see in real life, so it has its satisfying closure in fiction.

message 21: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Please explain Fred's last comment. It's the last sentence in the book. Why would he say that? Obviously it's a wonderful thing. Am I not getting it?

message 22: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) I think, a little higher on the page, he talks about proving a little old man is Santa. So when they see the cane standing there, he suddenly wonders if he didn't prove anything, that the little old man really was Santa! As in, Santa don't need no help, lawyer boy. Or something. :)

We watched the movie last night, and the kids had a blast. They loved the dialog, twists, and wry commentaries.

message 23: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I think that the actor missed the irony in his delivery.

message 24: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) I have to agree. I thought there were a few different places where the irony wasn't carried through in tone or body language. And that weakness showed up in a couple characters. It's as if the director didn't know what to do, or how to let that show, or felt he had to rein it in for some reason.

message 25: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
RE: the film. For me Gwenn and Wood made the film. I always thought O'Hara was beautiful, but not a great actress (not terrible by any means, but not in the same league as Hepburn, Davis, Crawford or Stanwyck). I thought that getting Mrs. Shellhammer drunk was sick and wrong...but I love that scene with her on the phone: "Hallo...hullo, Hello, Oh, I'd love to have Santa Claus come stay with us."

message 26: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Yeah, that drunk scene wasn't in the book, was it? It was so out of place. She played it so well, and I guess drunk jokes have their value for some people.
What's your favorite scene? I absolutely love when the prosecuting attorney's son testifies that Santa is real, because his daddy said so. So many lines got crossed, there!
Plus I feel vindicated because I didn't teach my kids to believe in Santa. They say they're grateful that I didn't. But along the way, I discovered that I DID have to teach them not to tell the other kids that there was no Santa.

message 27: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) By the way, we watched this on Friday and here it is Monday and one or another family member will pipe up and make a comment about something in that movie. I think we happened to watch it at just the right time in our lives, it has lingered with us. It may be a 'new' favorite classic for us!

message 28: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
It's interesting to me that Davies wrote the original story (won an Oscar) and then - before the film came out - he wrote this novella version - so he had a hit movie and book at about the same time. I adore the story - faith IS believing when common sense tells you not to. However, the novella - well, the writing is pretty perfunctory. Does it make sense to say the story is better than the physical writing?

message 29: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) It does. The book feels like it was whipped out over a weekend.
This is one of those rare times when I have to say that the movie is better than the book. I can only think of maybe three of those, in my opinion. And that's ok, too, for a movie to be better than its book. Some books are like that.

message 30: by Buck (last edited Dec 19, 2015 09:58AM) (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments We are listening to Miracle on 34th Street as we drive. We are between legs of our trip and will resume listening tomorrow, having heard about a third of it yesterday. Carl Reiner is the narrator. I've seen the famous old movie with Natalie Wood; also saw the remake. So, the mental images while listening to the story are preformed.

I am annoyed however that the audio book has been updated, There are references to calling 911, a TV mobile unit broadcasting live, cell phones. It was originally published in 1947 - these things seem out of place.

message 31: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Oh my, does that ever open an entire can o`worms!

message 32: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I hate it when they do that.

message 33: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) You can`t do that to an older paper edition.

message 34: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod

message 35: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Well, once again, very few discussed the book. But I'm glad we read it and talked about it. It will always be one of my favorite Christmas films.

message 36: by Buck (last edited Dec 27, 2015 06:51AM) (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments I've just returned home from a longish road trip. Haven't been too active on Goodreads.

I think I remember reading that the book was written after the screen play. In the movie, One of the best scenes, the turning event in the hearing, was the delivery of all of Santa's mail by the Post Office. That wasn't in the audio book I heard. My version was quite edited, as I said before. Could it be that that part was edited out?

message 37: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Can't imagine the story without that part.

message 38: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments In our audio book, read by Carl Reiner, the judge saw In God We Trust on a hundred dollar bill and figured if the US gov could believe in God, he could believe in Santa Clause. So I my question is: Does the US Postal Service make an appearance in the books that others read? Or was our modernized version true to the original in that respect?

message 39: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments Ivan wrote: "Let's talk about Granville Sawyer. To my way of thinking he is one of the lowest forms of villain - because he's ordinary, common. He exists in "real" life. The kind of person who abuses his power ..."

I listened for the name Granville Sawyer: I don't think it was in the book.

This could very well be one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book.

message 40: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Yes, Mr. Sawyer is in the book, as is the US Postal Service. Just exactly like in the movie. Your modernized version was not consistent with the original text - though it sounds like the same point was made without the dramatic effect of pouring tens of thousands of letters in front of the judges bench. "If the US Postal Service, a branch of the Federal Government, acknowledges Mr. Kringle as Santa Claus, who are we to disagree. The case is dismissed." (or something like that).

message 41: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments I feel like we had a counterfeit.
As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say: "It just goes to show, it's always something."

message 42: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) That would just make me feel so cheated. Once in awhile I so badly get cheated by a book and I go post a review on amazon or GR warning like minded people who might make the same mistake.

message 43: by Buck (last edited Dec 28, 2015 06:59PM) (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments Lora wrote: "That would just make me feel so cheated. Once in awhile I so badly get cheated by a book and I go post a review on amazon or GR warning like minded people who might make the same mistake."

The Store that sponsored the parade and hired Kris was Cole's (or maybe Kohl's) The rival store in our book was Shopper's Express. That didn't sound right. What was it really? Wasn't it really Macy's and Gimbel's, the real stores?

message 44: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Yes. Macy's and Gimbel's.

message 45: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Why would they change the stores? I mean, was this really a knock off piece of writing that changed just enough details to avoid copyright infringement? I know fan fic has become hugely acceptable, and I see fewer writers making the effort to build their own worlds.

Buck, can you post an isbn or some such thing? I have to see this with my own eyes.

message 46: by Ivan (last edited Dec 29, 2015 01:46PM) (new)

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I'm wondering if the "estate" allowed the update for $$$$

message 47: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments Lora wrote: "Buck, can you post an isbn or some such thing? I have to see this with my own eyes. ."

This is the link:

It only has 3 ratings and 1 review. It was the only MP3 audio book my library had, I think. It was available through Hoopla. My spouse has a brand new car. It does bluetooth. The old one had a 6CD player and I would go to the library and check out books on CDs for our trips. Bluetooth is more convenient because I can download the books, but the selection isn't the same.

Oh, well. There's always next year.

message 48: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Wow, you're on the cutting edge compared to us. We do cds in the car.
Well, my teens can download a book from librivox and listen to that on their mp3 player.

message 49: by Lora (new)

Lora (lorabanora) Oh, if you like older stuff, I like plugging Librivox as a free audio book supply.

message 50: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments Lora wrote: "Oh, if you like older stuff, I like plugging Librivox as a free audio book supply."

I've read a couple of Librivox books. They have public domain books, read by volunteer readers. Most, but not all, of the books are old -before 1923.

My library has many MP3 books for download. I probably hear more audio books than books that I read, and most of my books are ebooks that I download from the library. I still occasionally read a print book, but I prefer ebooks. And I really like audio books.

But sometimes, as with Miracle on 34th Street, you get a stinker.

« previous 1
back to top