It Started on a Garden Tour
COMEDY DRAMA ROMANCE FUNNY FAMILY ADVENTURE
Contemporary,1980s & '90s
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL EAT, PRAY, LOVE
SYD: 62. LEAD. INDEPENDENT AND SELF-CONFIDENT.
ARIELLE: 55. CO-LEAD. SYD’S EVENTUAL ROMANTIC INTEREST.
GRACE: 60S. SYD’S UNWANTED ADMIRER.
JACK: 70S. ATTEMPTS TO KEEP GRACE AWAY FROM SYD SO THAT HE CAN WOO ARIELLE.
MOLLY: 70S. ARIELLE’S FAMILY FRIEND WHO SHE COMES ON THE TRIP WITH.
It Started on a Garden Tour explores themes of growing through identity crisis brought on by work retirement, loss of a spouse, or relationship changes.
Target Gender: Female Leaning,Male Leaning
Toronto, London and East Anglia, England; Paris and Giverny,France; Lucerne Switzerland; Tuscany, Florence, Venice Italy; Toronto
Based on a True Story
Status: Yes: with a Publisher
Year Published: 2011
Retired Civil Engineer Syd, 62, widower faces emptiness and too many life style choices. Arielle, professional violinist, 55, broken from common law relationship that hindered her need for a sense of independence. Widow socialite Grace wants Syd. Jack Track, is matchmaker for Syd and Arielle
Syd and Arielle are attracted to each other, but both realize the artificiality of a trip as a place to develop a relationship. In spite of this restraint, Grace trying to come between them and Jack maneuvering everybody, Syd and Arielle are committed to let their relationship continue in Toronto
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Hard Copy Available
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Mature Audience Themes
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Plot - Other Elements
Happy Ending,Philosophical Questions
Plot - Premise
Main Character Details
Key Traits: Confident,Decisive,Faithful,Masculine,Religious,Skillful,Educated,Honorable
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Confident,Skillful,Romantic,Faithful,Engaging,Decisive,Gracious,Educated,Sophisticated,Honorable
Additional Character Details
Name: Jack Track
Key Traits: Adventurous,Engaging,Masculine,Uneducated,Confident,Decisive,Funny,Skillful,Honorable
Additional Character Details
Key Traits: Aspiring,Aggressive,Confident,Desperate,Blunt,Leader,Educated
Syd, retired civil engineer, is faced with choices. He finds his new work in gardening and painting, but is at odds with his marital status: safely remaining single with its grand independence and awful loneliness; safely replacing his wife with a widowed friend thus keeping the same pattern of lifestyle; or, taking some risks to find an intimate new kind of relationship. Syd knows he has to grow through change to make a new life for himself. Arielle, left a relationship with a high-powered businessman. She is a violinist in the city symphony, and has private pupils for music and ballet.Always meeting the wrong man, she never found trust within an intimate relationship that would allow her to be herself and experience a balance of dependence and independence for herself and her partner. Arielle knows she has to grow into single life as the only way to thrive as a human being. They hesitantly allow their attraction to each other to develop on the trip, and let it continue when back home, in real life. The tone of the story is mature, dignified, sensitive, and above all, humorous.
ROMANCE, DRAMA, COMEDY
A retired widower goes on a garden tour across Europe in an attempt to jumpstart the next phase of his life. A violinist fresh from a romantic betrayal attends the same tour with a family friend, needing a distraction from her bad breakup. As they tour the beautiful sites that Europe has to offer, they begin to see one another and come closer together. They begin a romance that they agree to take home.
Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
Yes, the Book Profile overall accurately reflects the book.
Draw of Story
The writing style is very compelling, and the descriptions leap vividly off the page. The author achieves a very atmospheric tale, which is perfect for a book filled with lush visuals. This feels like a real life romance, rather than a convoluted or manufactured one. It’s heartwarming and enjoyable, and still deeply personal to these characters.
Though the lead characters are fantastic, the supporting characters are much less memorable. Fleshing out the people who surround Syd and Arielle on this trip would help a great deal. Grace, for instance, could be a bit more sympathetic in the end. Jack could be less of a joke. It would be nice if the married tour guides also had more personality, rather than just professions. Even getting more of Molly’s insights into what Arielle is experiencing with Syd would add layers to Arielle’s own characterization. The dialogue is also a bit expository at times, with characters saying exactly what they’re thinking or feeling rather than engaging in subtext.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The many locations that are featured are a great hook into this movie. It’s a perfect way to get people into the theater, by focusing on all these amazing settings in a trailer. The personalities of the characters is also a good way to compel an audience, as the leads are so well drawn and specific. These feel like real, relatable people, like people you could be or at least know, and this approachability helps to give validity to the story.
Yes, it’s easy to see an adaptation having a large fanbase, especially with the right actors cast as the romantic pair. Romances often have many fans, and loyal fans to boot.
Due to the romantic genre, it’s unlikely an adaptation of the novel would have awards potential. It could generate buzz for its leads, though.
Similar Films/TV Series
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, EAT, PRAY, LOVE, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
What’s New About the Story
The fact that it’s set on a garden tour with multiple locations across Europe is very original, as is the fact that romance is very slow to develop. Anything that can be done to enhance these aspects will only be to the benefit of what’s already on the page. Perhaps Grace’s character could be pushed a bit more so she’s less comically villainous, as she doesn’t feel as realistic as the others.
The lead characters stand out because they are, for lack of a better term, fully cooked. They are entirely their own, independent people, and the fact that they’re not looking for love feels so fresh in the romantic drama field. The audience is allowed to get close to them and fully understand them before they find love. This makes them that much more relatable, and it’s this relatability that makes us want to follow them. There’s never a question as to whether the audience wants them to be together, which is a nice change as well.
Uniqueness of Story
The fact that the romance moves so slowly, yet so satisfactorily, makes it stand out in a crowded field. This element grounds the parts that could feel more fantastical, or aspirational, namely the tour itself and the beautiful locations. Syd and Arielle are both cautious, and understandably so. The setting on a tour also makes this a rare gem, as it allows the audience to see a myriad of locations, each more gorgeous and dreamlike than the last. Any adaptation should fully embrace these settings.
Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio
There’s very little that would need to be changed or adjusted for this novel to be ready for a screen adaptation, and it should absolutely be considered for one. The characters are clear and distinct, and their journey both across the continent and to find love with one another is memorable. The comedic relief works well without overpowering the romance or darker topics. It’s easy to see this garnering a large audience, especially a female-leaning one which is great for driving ticket sales (or streaming numbers). It’s rare that a book feels this ready to make the transition to the screen.
Syd, widower, retired civil engineer, goes on a garden tour to England and Europe after he had discovered challenging purposeful occupation in gardening and painting. While on the trip he notices a fellow passenger, Arielle, a violinist. She is fresh from a bad breakup and is only looking to recover herself. However, they do find themselves falling for one another as they both get a second chance at love.
What We Liked
This book represents an extremely sweet story that would melt any audience’s heart. Syd and Arielle fall for each other so slowly and softly that it feels like the start of a real life relationship, and it creates tension that makes the novel a page turner. Their fears and misgivings to getting involved with another person again cause them to be vulnerable and relatable characters, and it’s impossible not to root for them to get together. With an adult view of what love and independence looks like, this is a refreshing take on a romance that truly focuses on its characters rather than their pairing.
Film: With stunning, classic backdrops such as the Italian countryside and even the Louvre, audiences would be drawn in by the locations this film would feature alone. Add to that the well developed, likable characters who both fight against their eventual romance, and this would make a slow burn for the ages. This is a great character piece more than anything else, and centering on Syd and Arielle and their slowly intertwining journeys is a brilliant choice. Both characters are strong leads on their own, and combining them only makes a feature more compelling.
TV: The itinerary the garden tour takes throughout Europe would perfectly translate into a limited series for television. Setting an episode, or even sometimes two, in each location would make for a compelling plot that would continue to develop at a great pace alongside the characters baring themselves to one another and to the audience. Romance is always a popular genre, and the fact that this story puts joy and beauty first and foremost is a boon. There is no unnecessary, manufactured drama to be found, rather it all stems from strong characterizations that would easily draw in viewers episode to episode.
Key points: 1. Distinct and memorable protagonists
2. Beautiful European settings
3. The tour aspect paces the storytelling well
4. Potential for comedic relief from supporting characters
5. Romance is a popular genre
SYD leaves Toronto for A Garden Tour of England and other European countries, his first trip alone following the death of his wife, MARJORIE. He’s been learning how to live on his own, as she would never want him to grieve her forever. She had diabetes, and they had the luxury of knowing the end was coming. Syd’s grown SONS see him off to the airport, glad that he’s taking time for himself. Meanwhile ARIELLE is fresh off a hellish breakup with “B-MAN” and setting off on the same tour with her MOTHER’s friend, MOLLY, as her own mom is too weak to go. Syd was once a civil engineer, but he retired when Marjorie got sick so he could care for her. Arielle is a symphony violinist and teaches music on the side. When they arrive to meet up with the other people on the tour, GRACE, a high society widow, is instantly cruel to Arielle since she’s an attractive woman and also unmarried - even though Grace was widowed. The married tour directors, MARTIN and ISOBEL are kind, though, and everyone else seems so, too. After the flight, they start in England, and they’ll be traveling by coach the whole time.
Syd has every intention to go it alone on the trip, and most of the other older people are coupled up anyway. Grace, though, has every intention to bag Syd into being her next husband. She heard from a mutual acquaintance back in Canada that he’s looking for a new wife, a fallacy. Syd shows no interest in her, but she continues to try. They’re touring planned gardens all across Europe, and learning the history behind them.
They often have the days free to tour as they like, and Syd takes these opportunities to paint the beauty around him. He also starts to notice Arielle, unable to not be charmed by her as she also views the gardens alone. JACK takes it upon himself to run interference with Syd, sticking to Grace like a barnacle and inviting her to come do things with him and his WIFE. Syd doesn’t understand why Jack is helping him, but he appreciates it. He and Arielle slowly begin talking to one another, which makes Grace even angrier. Arielle isn’t looking for a relationship, as B-Man betrayed her in too many ways and never appreciated her, while Syd doesn’t want to replace Marjorie.
They can’t deny their mutual attraction, though, and it comes to a head in Paris, where they spend a romantic day together, seeing the sights and drifting closer and closer together. They have an undeniable chemistry, and they’re able to have fun with one another. They are photographed dancing, and Grace grows even more spiteful. She reveals that she only came on this tour specifically for Syd, and her rebuffs her advances yet again. Soon after there is a free day in Lucerne, Switzerland, and Syd and Arielle agree to covertly meet together to go up the mountain together. They are both comfortable with each other yet able to give the other plenty of space. They have their first kiss on the mountain, and neither can deny their growing feelings. They begin to open up to each other as they travel through Tuscany and then to Florence. Syd takes Grace aside to firmly tell her once and for all he has no interest in her, and Grace leaves the tour in a huff to go back home.
In Florence, Syd and Arielle tour the city together, overcome by Michelangelo’s DAVID, in The Academia Gallery, and blown away by the art on display in the many famous museums. The next evening after the trip final dinner, a kind of banquet in the hotel’s garden courtyard, Syd and Arielle are seated under the arbor. As the others drift away, Syd and Arielle stay on alone. When Arielle slides onto Syd’s lap to be closer, they succumb to their feelings and make love, covered by Arielle’s long flowing skirt. Syd asks Arielle to stay the night with him. They spend the night together and discuss what their individual futures will look like. They both need plenty of independence, but they want to be a part of each other’s lives. Arielle worries that their European trip will feel like a dream once they’re back home, and that things could change. They agree they need to trust one another, and let the rest fall into place. They spend a gorgeous day in Venice, and they part again until they’re back in Toronto. Syd’s sons pick him up from the airport, and though he doesn’t spill the beans, it’s implied he reaches out to Arielle.