This is one of those rare times when I must say that the film far outgoes the book, in fact Good-bye Mr. Chips is one of those exceedingly frustrating books that takes only an hour or so to read but when you've finished it you still don't know much about the characters. James Hilton gives only the most important facts of Mr Chips life so that you get a broad overlook but it is so to the point that there is no real emotion. This differs greatly from the film, which dwells more on his teaching days and the loses Mr Chips faces enhancing the emotional value.
I don't want to put you completely off the book, it is worth reading, however, I didn't enjoy it very much and found it a struggle to get through, possibly this was because I had watched the film first and consequently was expecting the same level of emotions.
Good-Bye, Mr Chips is about an old retired teacher who spends much of his time recalling previous events throughout his life in front of the fire. Although the story is continually jumping from past to present showing snippets of his life as a teacher at Brookfield Grammar School and his time in retirement James Hilton manages to display clearly whether it is a memory or Mr Chips in the present. The story is based around World War I with many teachers and students falling on the battle field, whilst, the main character himself remains at the school out living many of his students. The main emotion in this book is when Mr Chips reads out the list of those who died on the battlefield many of whom he remembers personally whilst other younger students and masters have no clue.
James Hilton leaves a lot of room for imagination in his book. He gives the main structure and outline of his story but leaves room for you to fill the gaps with your own imagination. I particularly noticed this when Mr Chips talks about 'his boys' and reads the lists of those who went to war. James Hilton doesn't describe each of the boys and what they did instead he lets us do that bit, all we know is that they are Mr Chips' boys and he remembers every single one of them!
Looking back at the book now I am glad that I read it but whilst reading it, it can seem a bit dull. All I can say is persevere- it is worth it and I defiantly advise to watch it afterwards because it gives you a better sense of what the book is all about and fills in the gaps of Mr Chips life.