The Holiday Netflix - how similar is the show to the book? Biggest cast and ending differences

After first airing on Channel 5, The Holiday has now landed on Netflix and the gripping mystery has raised some serious questions...

The Holiday Netflix show first aired on Channel 5, starring Jill Halfpenny
(Image credit: Channel 5)

The Holiday has now landed on Netflix after airing on Channel 5 earlier this year and it’s drawn us right back into the drama at the heart of this story.

The Holiday stars Jill Halfpenny in the lead role of police officer Kate who is left determined to get to the truth after discovering text messages sent by her husband Sean to a mystery woman. She knows it can only be one of three people - her closest friends. All of them have come away together on a special holiday with their partners and kids, leaving Kate with plenty of time to put her investigative skills to good use. Only the more she looks deeper, the more dangerous things become and when one of their group is found dead, secrets are forced into the light. 

But is The Holiday series based on a book and if so, how similar are they? We reveal what you need to know as Netflix viewers are introduced to this sinister story…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Is Netflix's The Holiday based on a book?

Like recent hits, The Essex Serpent, and Conversations With Friends, Netflix’s The Holiday is based on a book. The Holiday novel was written by bestselling author T.M. Logan and was published back in 2019. It received the accolade of becoming the Richard and Judy Book Club breakout thriller and the 480 page book was adapted into four episodes, all of which are now available to watch on Netflix. 

The Holiday book ending promised some serious drama and although the show definitely delivered on that front too, there were some different steps taken along the way.

How similar is The Holiday Netflix show vs the book? 

Even the best book-to-TV shows and book-to-movie adaptations often end up making at least some small tweaks to the source material when they bring them to life on screen and The Holiday Netflix/Channel 5 show is no different. Perhaps the most instantly noticeable difference between the gripping drama series and T.M.Logan’s original novel is the setting. 

The Holiday book’s events take place in the glorious sunshine of Provence in a Villa rented by Kate and Sean and her friends and their partners. However, The Holiday Channel 5 series was filmed in Malta instead and the location of the show’s disturbing events was switched to the stunning Mediterranean country too. 

The Holiday starring Jill Halfpenny and Cat Simmons

(Image credit: Channel 5)

But with plenty of sunshine and sea in the drama’s four episodes, this particular change from Provence to Malta perhaps isn’t quite as major a difference as others in the show. Just like how the Anatomy of a Scandal ending differs from the book, The Holiday drama does make a reasonably big change when it comes to the finale. 

The Holiday Netflix ending sees Kate finally uncover the truth after believing that her husband Sean had been unfaithful to her with one of her closest friends. However, Kate is almost left wishing she’d been right all along. Instead of cheating on her, Sean had teamed up with her friend Jenny to cover up Jenny's son Jake’s crime which he could implicate Sean and Kate’s daughter Lucy in.

The Holiday starring Liv Mjones and Aidan McCardle

(Image credit: Channel 5)

T.M. Logan’s chilling solution to The Holiday’s mystery revealed that Lucy had been cruelly humiliated by a boy at her school, Alex Bayley, who’d taken a video of her without her consent. Distraught, she’d told Jake about this and unintentionally inspired him to murder the boy when she said, “I wish he’d just f****** die!”

Taking her literally (and having filmed their conversation) Jake set out in his parents’ car and ran Alex over. Only it wasn’t long before Jenny discovered the truth and after learning Sean had spotted her son that night, she manipulated Kate’s husband into covering it up or risk Lucy being seen as the instigator. He was struggling to keep this to himself ahead of the holiday to Malta, exchanging messages with Jenny about it.

In The Holiday series Lucy is actually in the car herself at the time when Jake hits Alex, rather than being unaware of how her words were interpreted. Later on in the show Lucy had confided in Kate and Jenny’s friend Izzy, who was horrified and attempted to persuade Jenny to get Jake to confess - with deadly consequences. 

The Holiday cast member Cat Simmons as Izzy

(Image credit: Channel 5)

In the book, it’s Jake who drunkenly tells Izzy what happened, with Lucy unaware even at the end that this had been hanging over her all along. The implications of this change are quite major as book-Kate and Sean are determined to help their daughter and desperate she shouldn’t find out, whilst show-Kate and Sean are helping Lucy who knows the horrifying consequences of what happened. 

This changes the dynamic of their choice to help her, shifting it to become more emotional and intense as they’re faced with her initially begging them not to tell after revealing she was there herself. 

The dilemma for Kate as a police officer is heightened by this change and she is last seen deleting the recording of Lucy talking to Jake. This becomes her wrench between the job and her family, something that is also different in the book.

In The Holiday book, Kate ends up breaking into Jenny’s house to destroy the evidence, with the help of Sean, and it ends with Jenny’s husband Alistair receiving a visit from the police. 

Whilst this is a fairly major change between The Holiday series and the book, however, the rest of the adaptation is generally faithful to the source material. The story of Kate initially believing her husband is having an affair and suspecting Izzy does follow the path of the book.

And when it comes to The Holiday cast, Kate, played by Jill Halfpenny, is a police officer, just like in the novel. Her group of friends remain the same - Rowan (Siobhan Hewlett), Izzy (Cat Simmons) and Jennifer, commonly known as simply Jen in the book and Jenny in the show, played by Swedish star Liv Mjones. 

The Holiday cast including Jill Halfpenny

(Image credit: Channel 5 )

The friends are only slightly changed, with Rowan having straight auburn hair and Izzy chestnut brown hair in the novel and Jennifer being brought up in California in the book, giving her a “transatlantic twang” to her accent.

She and her husband Alistair have another son as well as Jake in The Holiday novel named Ethan, but they only have one in the Channel 5/Netflix show. Ultimately, whilst there are both small and more significant changes between The Holiday series and book, the essence of the original story and a parent’s determination to protect their child is definitely carried through.

The Holiday starring Jill Halfpenny

(Image credit: Channel 5)

How many books has T.M. Logan written? 

The Sunday Times best-selling author T.M. Logan has written six books overall, all within the thriller genre. His debut was Lies, released in 2017, followed by 29 seconds in 2018 and then The Holiday. His most recent three novels are The Catch, Trust Me and The Curfew, published in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.  

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.