Earlier in the year, I decided to start reading self-published fanfiction in order to broaden my literary horizons. After all, I thought to myself, how many amazing pieces of writing may be hidden away in the archives of fanfiction.net? Naturally, I started with a fan written Waltons novel. At the time, I thought The Waltons was a good choice because there wasn’t going to be any more of it, but now we’re getting a new movie, so what do I know? Either way, I still think I chose a good place to start.
What drew me to A Walton Story (other than it being a whole new novel-length Waltons story for me to consume) was the fact that it follows John-Boy after Season 6 of The Waltons. At this point in the series, he leaves to travel around the world as a war reporter… but he is broken hearted as his relationship with Daisy has come to an end. When the novel started with John-Boy alone and miserable in his New York apartment, I was kind of confused, because I thought “He shouldn’t be in his apartment, he should be travelling the world right now!” and then I realised that this story was taking a different path to the series – a “what if”.
Here, John-Boy and Daisy do break up, but they afterwards decide to try to give their relationship a second try. I always thought that John-Boy and Daisy were a good couple, so I was happy to see a story where the two of them get a second chance together… but things don’t work out. On the show, of course, Daisy doesn’t tell John-Boy that she’d had a child before they were together and the author seems to take this as a defining feature for Daisy’s character. She consistently hides things from John-Boy throughout the story and is genuinely not very good at communicating with him, which is sad to see.
But it’s not all one-sided. I was disappointed with John-Boy in this story. As much as I always admire him, I felt that he was very quick to anger and unsympathetic towards Daisy. At times it was uncomfortable, because it was very much like a real relationship that had turned toxic – on the one hand, this was really well written, on the other, I did think it was a bit unfair to both characters, who came off worse than they ever did in the show… but then I do appreciate different creators reinterpreting existing characters in new ways.
On the other hand, John and Olivia were both written perfectly. I think there voices were captured really well and I thought that they acted exactly as they would if they’d encountered this situations in an episode. The same is true for most of the other characters, really, and throughout the story there are plenty of fun little references to other Waltons episodes which, as a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed. You can tell that the author is very familiar with the show. An unexpected character shows up towards the end, which was a nice treat, but I won’t say who, because I don’t want to spoil any of the later developments.
I should also mention the character Millie. Millie was never on The Waltons and is completely unique, but I thought she brought a lot to the story. She’s a neighbour of John-Boy’s and she is a very kind, caring and likeable person. I could easily have seen her fitting into the show as a recurring character and it’s nice to see the author introducing some characters of her own.
Overall, I do prefer the version of events that actually transpired on The Waltons from Season 7 onward, but it was interesting to see another fan’s vision for how things could have gone. I know that some people don’t enjoy the final three seasons of the show, so maybe they’ll like this as an alternative – John-Boy certainly plays a bigger role here than he did in Seasons 7, 8 and 9. I think, for me, the biggest drawback was that the author interprets John-Boy and Daisy very differently to me, which didn’t quite sit right, but, all in all, I’m certainly glad I read it and it’s good to have this extra Waltons story out there.