Just finished this and needed to re-watch the movie Field of Dreams that it inspired. While the novel has some characters, themes, and events that some might feel are missing from the film, on the whole, the film is faithful to the spirit of the book and in some ways even improves upon it.
This book is about the love of baseball, known for decades as the American Pastime. The book is also about the love of the land and this is one of the themes that gets trimmed. But the love of baseball is embellished upon. It's a love passed down from fathers to sons and while this man has only one daughter, its clear that that love is being taught to her as well. Finally, the book and the movie are about having the courage to fearlessly follow your dreams when you know that they're in the right.
The novel clearly falls into the Magical Realism school and the movie makes that even more apparent. It's about the beauty of dreams and one man's quixotic mission to follow his dreams.
The connections with baseball are perfect for this theme. Baseball is evocative of a simpler, more innocent time when even the villains could be heroes.
Surprisingly the book is more modest than the movie in some of its plot points. The book's protagonist is a bit more of the everyman while the movie emphasizes the fabulous dreamer part of his character.
It's a measure of the magic of film that the movie evokes the beauty of the ball diamond and the worshipful air of expectancy associated with a game under the lights without coming off as religious, while some of the passages in the book that attempt the same descriptions seem weirdly evangelical.
Ray's twin brother, the old farmer Eddie Scissons and Annie's Brother Mark all receive less emphasis in the film but their absense was not too deeply felt.
Not omitted, but considerably changed was the authors's fascination with reclusive writers. James Earl Jones does a credible job as the formerly activist writer Terrence Mann in the film but this fictional writer is a poor substitute for the original J.D.Salinger of the book. However it is nice to see a black man in this film that is firmly centered on pre-Jackie Robinson baseball.
I'd recommend this to baseball fans, fans of dreamers, fans of writers and to fans of fathers and sons. This read is well worth the time.