Janette Oke's Book Made to TV Movie
By Lisa Tuttle
April 17, 2003
Janette Oke, one of inspirational fiction's most beloved authors and mother of Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Lorne Oke, will soon see her book "Love Comes Softly" adapted to film broadcast on television. Michael Landon, Jr., and Hallmark Entertainment have wanted to produce the movie for many years. Landon waited patiently and obtained the rights in an auction.
The historical tale revolves around Marty, a young woman who is widowed as she and her husband journey west to settle on the wild plains of the Midwest. Winter is approaching and she is pregnant.
Having no money and no home, her husband's death leaves her in a predicament. Still stricken by grief, she accepts the marriage proposal of a widowed man who needs a mother for his young daughter. Her journey takes her through the pain of loss, into a relationship with Christ, and ends with a love that comes softly.
The filming, now complete, took place in the foothills of Sacramento, Calif. Oke visited the movie set and observed production. When asked if she had helped write the script or served as an advisor, Oke explained that she had no say in the matter. Upon the sale of her book, Bethany House obtained all rights to the story.
Though Oke had no influence as to how the story was portrayed on film, her name will forever be linked to it. Because of this, Oke has done a lot of praying that the Lord would preserve the message intended.
Her prayers have paid off. She says Michael Landon, Jr. has done a fabulous job with the story and she is "very pleased with the Christian tone that was retained." Though under no obligation to do so, Landon has called her to discuss various details with her and ask her input.
While the film is based on the book, those who have read "Love Comes Softly" can expect to see significant differences in the film. Because print and film mediums are vastly different, adapting a novel into film often requires dramatic changes. Oke stresses, "the film is based on the novel, but doesn't follow it exactly."
Oke devoted herself to writing after her children entered their teen years and her family responsibilities lessened. Bethany House published "Love Comes Softly," Oke's first novel, in 1979. Since then, she has written 75 others with sales now exceeding 20 million copies. Oke is currently enjoying her retirement.