When Calls the Heart: TV Series vs Janette Oke’s Original Book Series

BY: Sharon Fitness for GOOD.

WHEN CALLS THE HEART is a beloved television series that has captured the hearts of many viewers with its charming depiction of life in the Canadian West. While the TV series shares its name and inspiration with Janette Oke’s original book series, there are several notable similarities and differences between the two.



  • Books: The original series by Janette Oke is set in the Canadian West, focusing on the rugged, untamed frontier.
  • TV Series: The show is also set in the Canadian West, specifically in the fictional town of Hope Valley (originally called Coal Valley).

Main Character

  • Books: Elizabeth Thatcher is the central character, a young teacher from a well-to-do family who moves to the frontier to teach.
  • TV Series: Elizabeth Thatcher Thornton remains the central character. Her journey from a sheltered, privileged background to a committed schoolteacher in a frontier town is a key storyline.


  • Books: The themes of faith, love, community, and perseverance are central to the books.
  • TV Series: These themes are also prominent in the TV series, with a strong emphasis on community and moral values.

Romantic Elements

  • Books: Elizabeth’s romance with Wynn Delaney, a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, is a significant part of the story.
  • TV Series: Elizabeth’s romantic relationships, especially with Mountie Jack Thornton and later Saloon owner Lucas Bouchard, and now Mountie Nathan Grant are central to the plot.

Character Development

  • Books: Elizabeth’s character is developed primarily through her relationship with Wynn Delaney and her adjustment to life on the frontier.
  • TV Series: Elizabeth’s character arc is broader, involving her relationships with Jack Thornton and Lucas Bouchard, her role as a mother, and her deep involvement in the community’s life.

Plot and Storylines

  • Books: The books focus more on Elizabeth’s personal journey and her marriage to Wynn. The storyline is more contained and primarily revolves around their life together.
  • TV Series: The show includes multiple subplots and character arcs, involving a wide range of characters in Hope Valley. The TV series expands significantly beyond Elizabeth’s personal story, incorporating various community issues and new characters.

Secondary Characters

  • Books: The secondary characters in the books are less developed, serving mainly to support Elizabeth and Wynn’s story.
  • TV Series: The TV series introduces and develops a host of secondary characters, such as Abigail Stanton in earlier seasons, Rosemary and Lee Coulter, and Bill Avery, each with their own rich backstories and character arcs.

Tone and Style

  • Books: The tone of the books is more introspective, focusing on personal faith and inner strength.
  • TV Series: The show has a broader appeal, with a mix of drama, romance, and occasional humor. It’s designed to be family-friendly and visually engaging, with high production values.

Historical Context

  • Books: The historical context in the books is more subtly woven into the narrative, focusing on the personal experiences of the characters.
  • TV Series: The TV series places a stronger emphasis on historical events and social issues of the time, such as women’s rights, education, and community solidarity.

Romantic Interests

  • Books: Elizabeth’s romantic journey is centered around Wynn Delaney, and their relationship remains the focal point.
  • TV Series: Elizabeth’s romantic storyline involves significant relationships with Jack Thornton, Lucas Bouchard and now Nathan Grant, adding complexity and depth to her character’s romantic life.

Both Janette Oke’s original book series and the WHEN CALLS THE HEART TV series share a foundation of strong, relatable characters and heartfelt themes. However, the TV series expands the story significantly, introducing a wider array of characters and subplots, and adapting the narrative to suit a broader television audience. The books provide a more intimate, faith-centred perspective, while the show offers a multifaceted depiction of life in Hope Valley, balancing romance, drama, and community. Fans of either medium will find much to appreciate in both versions of this beloved story.

Watch When Calls the Heart season 11 on Friday nights at 7:30pm AEST on GOOD. or stream from the free GOOD app. Watch now: CLICK HERE.

About the Author: Sharon Fitness is a staff writer for GOOD. She’s a movie buff, TV fan, foodie and dog lover.

Feature Images: When Calls the Heart promotional content from GOOD.