‘Apples Never Fall’ Author On Book To TV Show Differences, Spoilers

Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Apples Never Fall.”

By now, bestselling author Liane Moriarty expects differences on the journey from book to screen.

The author of mega-hits like “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” Moriarty has watched several of her books turn into star-studded, prestige shows — and has more on the way.

Most recently, Moriarty’s 2021 novel “Apples Never Fall” was turned into a Peacock adaptation starring Annette Bening as a mother of four who disappears.

When people tell Moriarty they hope TV adaptations won’t change her book, she always responds: “They can’t.”

“My book is there. For me, the adaptation is a different medium. I think changes are necessary,” she tells TODAY.com. People describe my books as thrillers, but they’re not really thrillers — they’re not quite thrilling enough to be thrillers. They’re more family dramas with mystery elements.”

“The challenge with an adaptation is to amp up the thriller but also to retain the character development and the humor,” she says, adding that the “Apples Never Fall” showrunner did a “beautiful job” at the task.

Below, Moriarty walks TODAY.com through the changes made for the TV adaptation. Spoilers begin from here on to the rest of the article.

What are major differences between ‘Apples Never Fall’ book and TV show?

Both versions follow Joy and Stan Delaney (played by Bening and Sam Neill), a couple who ran a recently closed tennis academy for years. Now retired, Joy and Stan are looking forward to new adventures — but then, Joy disappears suddenly, leaving Stan and their four children as suspects. The couple’s children grapple with looking at their parents’ marriage in a new light and deal with their own secrets.

Below, find the main differences between the two works.


Like other adaptations of Moriarty’s work, this series makes a leap from Australia to the U.S. The book unfolds in Sydney; the show is set in Miami.

The novel spans between the fall of 2019 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February and March 2020. The pandemic is not included in the plot of the show.

The Delaney children

The Delaney children, in the book, are as follows:

  • Amy, the oldest, is aimless and working as a taste tester.
  • Logan, the second, works in community college. His girlfriend, Indira, has just broken up with him because he’s unambitious.
  • Troy, the third, is a trader. Years before the beginning of the book, he and his wife divorced after he cheated on her.
  • Brooke, the youngest, runs a physical therapy clinic and has recently split from her husband.

In the show, the children are:

  • Amy (Alison Brie), the family’s outsider because she’s vulnerable with her emotions and is a bit of a hippy.
  • Troy (Jake Lacy), the eldest son (if amy is actually the oldest), is a venture capitalist. His marriage broke up for the same reason as it does in the book.
  • Logan (Conor Merrigan-Turner) works in a boat shop and struggles to commit to his fiancé, Indira.
  • Brooke (Essie Randles) is a physical therapist and is engaged to a woman.

The matter of Savannah

The book and show are split between the action unfolding in the present, Joy’s disappearance, and what happened half a year earlier: The arrival of Savannah Pagonis.

Savannah seems to be a stranger in need after leaving an abusive relationship. To the chagrin of the Delaney kids, she ends up sticking around, cooking for the family and being part of their lives. The siblings guess, correctly, that she is a con artist — she eventually blackmails Troy in both the book and show.

But Savannah had a secret: She’s actually the younger sister of Harry Haddad, the tennis pro Stan coached before he was fired unceremoniously.

Savannah came to the Delaneys to exact revenge. Her grudge is different in both, but it comes down to this: Savannah’s mom was abusive.

In the book, Savannah lives with her mom and Harry lives with their dad. The siblings’ mom starves Savannah while trying to force her ballet career. Savannah visited the Delaneys only once to pick up her brother. Starving, she broke into the house and tried to get food. They yelled at her.

It’s implied, in the book, that she’s getting revenge on other people who wronged her as a child, like a plastic surgeon who laughed at her when she was in distress.

In the show, however, Savannah upset that the Delaneys fired Harry, because after that, Harry and their dad traveled and she had to live alone with their mom.

Joy’s disappearance

A chain of events leads to Joy’s disappearance. First, Savannah reveals one of Joy’s major secrets: Joy is the reason Harry left the school.

Her reasoning is different in the book and the show. In the show, she thinks Stan was holding Harry back; in the book, she doesn’t want Stan traveling with Harry and leaving the family. Plus, she holds lingering resentment over his own disappearances.

This prompts a huge fight between Stan and Joy, then an icing out. Finally, she leaves. Her act is an homage to Stan’ old pattern of walking out after fights.

Joy decides to stay with Savannah — but not permanently. In the book, Joy writes Stan a note explaining why she’s leaving, but it fall off the fridge. In the show, she calls Savannah and absconds to her Georgia cabin. Then, Savannah cuts the phone line and deliberately isolates her.

Does Stan get arrested?

In both the book and the movie, Stan becomes suspect Numero Uno. However, his arrest goes a lot further in the show. In the book, Stan never ends up in prison.

Savannah’s role at the end

The show ends with a new start for the Delaneys, as the kids take on the role of helping clean up the backyard after a hurricane, while Joy just looks and watches. The book has a more sinister ending, implying there is a murder — only the victim isn’t Joy.

There is an implied murder in the book, only it’s not Joy. In the last chapter, Savannah boards a plane headed to Adelaide to visit her mother.

The chapter gives a flashback to their last interaction, which happened just before she arrived at the Delaneys’ Savannah confronts her mom for locking her in her room if she fogot to leave food on he plate. “Good dancers must lean to control their calories,” she remembered her mom saying.

“Sometimes you locked me in my room with only water… that was a terrible thing to do to a little girl. I thought I would be there forever. I thought I would die” she told her mom.

As revenge, Savannah locks her mom in he bedroom with a pallet of bottles of water and six boxes of crunch bars, then went to Sydney for longer than expected. All the while, she has the key to her mother’s bedroom around he neck.

The book doesn’t confirm whether her mother is alive or dead, but that Savannah was willing to take the risk.

First appeared on www.today.com

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