My first introduction to Tuck Everlasting came from the movie (starring Alexis Bledel as Winnie). I think it was actucally through the movie that I heard of the book. After reading the book, I’m surprised the movie didn’t take as many liberties with the story as I originally thought it might.
I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I hadn’t seen the movie, but in some ways the movie also heightened the novel since I had a visual of characters and landscape, in particular the creepy man in the yellow suit (played by Ben Kingsley), and the sound of the music box! (Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to see their favorite classics ruined by a movie, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The movie is very beautiful.)
In Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbit threads the dream of immortality into the life of Winnie Foster, a prim and proper Victorian girl being trained for her upper class role, as she meets the Tuck family. She comes across the youngest Tuck, Jesse, in her father’s woods bent over a tree drinking from a spring, but when she wants a drink Jesse tells her she can’t and a struggle ensues. Winnie ends up being kidnapped by the Tucks in order to preserve the secret of the spring, and their own, whoever drinks from it will live forever.
Babbit deals with a heavy topic. Living forever, or being forever young, seems like an ideal situation, but through the Tuck’s Winnie learns that there’s more to the allure than meets the eye. Life’s a cycle and death is supposed to be a part of it. There’s a finality needed in life that immortality doesn’t bring. The reality of endless life in this world, ultimately, fills empty for the Tuck’s. Even if they can live forever, travel to exotic places, and have adventures they can never settle down, start a family, put down roots–as Miles sadly experienced.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Tuck Everlasting and would recommend it. It’s very well written, childlike, and reminds me of a dream.
The Novel & the Movie
There are some differences between the novel and the movie, which are to be expected. The plot doesn’t change, but a few minor (or not so minor) details do. For one, Winnie is 10 going on 11 in the novel and between 15-17 in the film, which sets her up for a romance with Jesse (whose 17). At first, I was disappointed that the movie changed the age to add the romance aspect, however as I read on they didn’t add the romance but embellished it. In the book, Winnie is quite enamored with Jesse from the beginning,
Sitting relaxed with his back against the trunk was a boy, almost a man. And he seemed so glorious to Winnie that she lost her heart at once. (25)
Jesse even asks Winnie to drink from the spring when she’s 17,
…and then you could go away with me! We could get married, even. That’d be pretty good, wouldn’t it! We could have a grand old time, go all around the world, see everything.” (72)
In the film, Jesse and Winnie’s romance is elaborated and quite sensational–if you’re a hopeless romantic you’ll love it.
The only other difference I can think of is how Mae is rescued, but overall no changes to change the plot and theme of the novel. I enjoyed both the book and film. Who knows…maybe you will too!