Published April 21, 2022
By D. G. Martin
A book is going to put North Carolina in the news.
The book, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” is set in North Carolina.
And so is the upcoming movie based on the book.
There is a little problem here. But don’t worry. I will explain at the end.
The “Crawdads” book by Delia Owens came out in 2018 and dominated the book market. For instance, it was Amazon's top selling novel for 2019.
During 2019 and 2020 it led The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list and topped that list 32 times. As of early this year “Crawdads” had made the list 150 times.
If you have not read the book or do not remember the plot, Sony Pictures summarizes it as follows: the book and movie tell “the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the 'Marsh Girl' haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what actually happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lay within the marsh."
Actress Reese Witherspoon has been a “Crawdads” promoter from the beginning, featuring the novel as a pick of her book club and producing the film though her company, Hello Sunshine.
Another supporter is singer Taylor Swift, who has written a theme song for the movie. She praises the book as one, “I got absolutely lost in when I read it years ago."
When Swift heard about the movie, she knew she “wanted to be a part of it from the musical side. I wrote the song 'Carolina' …I wanted to create something haunting and ethereal to match this mesmerizing story.”
Here is a portion of her lyrics:
You didn’t see me here (You didn’t see me)
They never did see me here
There are places I will never go to
Things that only Carolina will ever know ...
The film is scheduled for release on July 15.
Movies based on books usually promote book sales. It is already happening for “Crawdads,” which was back to number one on The New York Times bestseller list for Sunday, April 10.
Books that feature a state or region can be good for that locality. The film of Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain” gave positive attention to North Carolina’s mountains although it was filmed in the mountains of Romania.
So, will the “Crawdads” film be good for North Carolina?
If the film is as good as the book it should be good for our state.
Now, what about the problem I mentioned earlier? Some readers of “Crawdads” noticed that some geographic scenes in the book did not fit the actual landscapes of North Carolina.
The book’s marshlands and waterfronts might better describe landscapes further south, in Georgia perhaps, where author Delia Owens grew up.
When Owens appeared on North Carolina Bookwatch, I asked her if the film would be shot in North Carolina. She said probably not, because windy weather on the Outer Banks would make film-making difficult.
The film’s producers made another choice and shot the movie in Louisiana. A good choice perhaps. It has the marshes and green cover that the story needs.
But it would have been more fun for us if they had brought their movie cameras and actors to our state.
D.G. Martin hosted “North Carolina Bookwatch,” for more than 20 years.