While in Finland to see Tanz der Vampire with music by Jim Steinman, I was reading Mary Haley Bell’s Whistle Down the Wind. Of course, that’s the novel on which Andrew Lloyd Webber based the musical Jim wrote the lyrics for.
And when I say based on, I mean loosely based on. Really loosely, in fact. I mean, sure, there’s three kids called Swallow, Brat and Poor Baby—well, those are not their proper names, nobody could be christened with names that—and there’s this stranger who might be Jesus or just an escaped convict that hides in their barn, but that’s it. It really is.
Basically, they took the main story, themes and some of the characters, and ran with it. To name a few differences: in the book, the children’s mother ran of to South Africa with this guy Peregrine. In the musical, she died. Amos, the James Dean-bad boy-rebel without a cause on a motorbike from the musical is a nine year-old who needs looking after from a nanny in the book. Getting the gun from the emergency box near the train tunnel? Didn’t happen. There are no preachers who ask you to take up snakes to test your faith in Jesus. Swallow doesn’t fall in love with either the man or Amos? She’s twelve, after all.
So, all in all, I read a quite different story than the one I was familiar with. Still a good story, though. It focuses more on the children and how they keep believing, no matter what the grown-ups tell them.
- Book read
- Mary Haley Bell — Whistle Down the Wind
- First line
- I am ten, and they call me Brat.