The movie softens, no, does away with, the melodrama, leaving the natural intensity of the scenes and story to play out all the more profoundly. The workings of the story are vastly different from that of the book, but the spirit of it -- the integral parts of Percy giving his friendship so freely to Edith, her courage and skill with horses (though only slightly seen in the novel), even all the way to Edith looking “long and sadly” at the portrait of her father -- are all neatly tied in.
Perhaps it's my excitement for anything Ivanhoe, but I thought the whole imagery with the tableaux, Edith as Rebecca and Arlington as the Templar (while perhaps quite blatant) worked very neatly into their relationship. Having there be a Hamilton son certainly makes the whole disinherited thing a bit stronger, but why oh why was Edith so submissive to all of Ida's orders? It drove me crazy! It does make her more Cinderella-like to be sure, but I didn't see why Edith owed any especial deference to her. Why, if Lord Percy had been but a touch less observant he might have never seen anything of it! Observation, however, is the very keystone of his character which is something they bring out very well in the movie and also a character trait I highly admire/respect, so all is well. :)
Do I think it can be completely compared to the movie? Not at all. The book is quite melodramatic, with crumbling walls and single dropping tears – whereas the movie, in its thoughtful friendship, refreshingly gentle romance and adorable humor is one of the most everyday-like costume dramas I have ever seen.
Though the book was rather slower than I remembered it being, I had a great deal of fun remembering and placing little anecdotes and keys from it as seen in the movie and enjoyed my re-visit to it.