I’m so glad I read the book first. So much was changed in the television version to accommodate the abbreviated timeframe—Jackson’s not even in the train when it crashes (although they cleverly get him on the tracks), and there are no sub-plots involving Julia’s baby, Jackson’s new wife, and Louise’s new husband.
Watching the televised version is like watching a story that’s based on the same general ingredients, except that the actors/characters have been given permission to add and subtract to the recipe—spicing things up here, replacing things there—as they see fit.
What really stood out for me, though, in watching the program, is the character of Reggie. I hadn’t quite realized how much sadness (and hope) for Reggie I was still carrying around with me, until I saw her brought to life on the small screen (my Mac laptop, actually) by Gwyneth Keyworth. Reggie is the center of this story, and while we don’t get the marvelous stream of consciousness from the novel, we still feel how damaged and (yet) how strong Reggie is. Her losses. Her love of books. Her irrepressible need for family. She is indeed another one of Jackson’s “lost girls,” and like many of them (Louise, Joanna), she’s only lost in some ways, not all. Let these lost girls be be found, give them a lift up, and they’ll keep on swinging.
Read another opinion I happened upon while searching for Gwyneth Keyworth’s name: http://theolivareader.blogspot.com/2011/06/when-will-there-be-good-news-television.html