Books to TV Adaptations

It’s a consolation that no matter how crazy the world spins, one can always retreat into books for respite. And film adaptations, when done well, can double the enjoyment. And now, there are TV mini series.

As if you need more suggestions to read this fall, here are some titles that are in various stages of development, but this time, not on the big screen but for TV. TV looks to be the next great realm to conquer, for even A-list movie stars and directors have started to cross over. It’s not surprising then that more books are being turned into TV miniseries.*

Here are a few upcoming titles:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton


The 2013 Man Booker Prize winning novel is to be made into a six-part BBC drama series. Author Catton will be writing the adaptation herself. Six parts to put the 832 page book into perspective. Set in the New Zealand gold rush era, the Victorian mystery tale is a first for Catton in TV writing. Other than the longest book to win the Booker Prize, Catton is also the youngest winner at 28.
A thriller, suspense, with lots of characters and stories during the 19th C. New Zealand gold rush; sounds like a wealth of materials to turn into a TV miniseries.


The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist.jpg
BBC loves suspense thrillers. Here’s another one. The Miniaturist is British actress Jessie Burton’s debut novel that had sold over 1 m copies in 37 countries. Set in 17th C. Amsterdam, the story looks like a version of the movie Crimson Peak. A young bride married to a merchant trader is left in his huge mansion alone with his sister most of the time. Her wedding gift is a cabinet-sized replica of their home. A miniaturist comes in to create the items of the mansion in smaller, parallel version. Secrets begin to unveil as the miniature house takes shape. Sounds eerie.



We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler



On this side of the Atlantic, we too have the Book into TV kind of phenom. HBO is turning Karen Joy Fowler’s Booker shortlisted, PEN/Faulkner Award winning novel into a miniseries. Now this one I’ve read, and I admit it’s quite incredulous a story. Natalie Portman is to produce and star and is ready to create a sisterly bond with a chimpanzee as they grow up together in the same home. That’s the storyline, but do they now have to train a chimp to star with her?



American Gods by Neil Gaiman


Gaiman fans rejoice. A new TV series to come in 2017 based on his multiple award-winning fantasy American Gods, with the author writing the episodes. Gaiman is prolific in various realms and no stranger to TV productions. Many will likely remember his Coraline, turned into the Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film in 2010. For TV, there are Dr. Who, Lucifer, Eternals and his short stories into miniseries. Now American Gods, old mythological super beings challenged by modern day gods in America; they exist as people believe in them. Their names: Media, Technology, Internet, …


Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood


Canada will not be left behind. Our own wonder woman Sarah Polley, actress and director, is adapting the work of another prominent Canadian, Margaret Atwood. Alias Grace will be a six-hour miniseries to air on CBC-TV and Netflix. Polley’s previous adaptation of a short story by Alice Munro, retitled Away From Her, brought her an Oscar nom for Best Adapted Screenplay (2008). Alias Grace is in good hands then. Historic fiction inspired by a 19th c. double murder, the story is about a maid named Grace Marks who was convicted, had spent 30 years in prison, and finally exonerated.




Are you aware of other book to TV adaptations? Do fill me in and expand this list.

* See ‘Comments’ for clarification.


Reviews of Adaptations on Ripple Effects (for a complete list, click here):

Stillman’s Love & Friendship: More than Book Illustration

Brooklyn: From Book to Film

Life of Pi

Never Let Me Go

Away From Her

Can a movie adaptation ever be as good as the book?

Published by


If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

25 thoughts on “Books to TV Adaptations”

  1. Oh, The Miniaturist sounds really good! I’d like to read that one, much less watch it! Never been a Neil Gaiman fan. Tried. Just can’t pull it off! All of these sound interesting but I especially love anything BBC because they always do such an amazing job.

    Are you watching The Durrells in Corfu?


    1. Jeanie,

      I’m just more interested in seeing the move from the big screen to the small ones, and there are lots, not only TV, but online streaming through many other platforms. Like Netflix, or Amazon have their own studio making their own movies. This sure is the trend. And just hope it’s not the beginning of the end of the cinema… cinema in the ‘traditional’ sense of the word. Anyway, next post will be some upcoming titles adapted for the big screen. And I’m sure you’ll like some of those. 🙂


  2. I don’t know if you care about SF book to tv adaptations, but Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is being made into a tv series for HBO. Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and Frederik Pohl’s Gateway are coming on SyFy. I’ve also read murmurs about some John Scalzi tv adaptations, and maybe Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.


    1. Jeanne,

      Thanks for the headsup to these additional titles. I admit I’m not a regular SF viewer. Or even fantasy, for that matter. But always good to be in the know. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know. 😉


  3. What a wonderful collection of shows to look out for Arti. If I had to choose one, it would be Alias Grace, but all look interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

    However, I’m not sure I agree with “And *now*, there are TV mini series.” They’ve been around for decades, haven’t they? After all, that famous wet-shirt scene – you know the one I’m talking about! – comes from a miniseries! And then there have been all those wonderful other British adaptations of writers like Dickens, as well as Austen of course, not to mention Elizabeth Gaskell, and more recent writers like Zadie Smith’s White teeth. (Miniseries in 2002).

    Just being argumentative!!


    1. WG,

      Yes, I knew that word could become a contentious issue. Glad you’ve mentioned it, so I can explain. “Now” refers to the trend that, without going straight to the big screen cinema, notable books (usually contemporary, acclaimed works) are being made into TV movies or miniseries first, maybe even only. And at the present time, I think TV is enjoying a ‘golden’ period wherein A-listers and prominent directors are crossing over. Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, just to name a few. And it has begun a few years back, not strictly “now” .

      In recent years (my “now”) we’ve seen the shift from mainstream cinema to the smaller TV screen or even to the computer screen where streaming platforms have their own productions, such as Amazon, Netflix… etc. You’re absolutely right this is not a new thing, but now we see more and more, and maybe they may not go to the big screens at all later. e.g. If Sarah Polley is writing a 6 part TV miniseries script on Alias Grace, I doubt it will be made into a full feature film any time soon.

      As for the wet-shirt scene, it’s stored in my long term memory… meaning, if I ever get dementia some day, it will likely be still there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, Arti, I knew you’d respond reasonably! I was going to comment that TV does seem to be on the rise. My kids are very much into TV series – that they watch via Netflix etc. They are a great source of recommendations to us (and us them, occasionally!) It’s interesting, in fact, how the “moving image” industry is re-inventing itself. People still like good stories, don’t they!

        An interesting thing is that people often – particularly re Austen adaptations of which there are a plethora – compare movie versions with miniseries ones, without realising they are different beasts, and that what you can explore/cover in a miniseries is so much more than in a movie.


        1. The obvious comparisons are usually books and their film adaptations. And now the movie and the TV miniseries. Now that could be an idea for another post. But I’ve long learned not to compare different art forms, esp. between books and movies. But we are creatures of association. And comparison comes naturally for us it seems. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree that it’s tricky comparing art forms, particularly in terms of wanting one to replicate the other. That’s not possible, is it. The interesting thing is to discuss the different forms in terms of what they do or don’t do, how the adaptation might depart from the original and why, whether it changes anything significant in terms of “meaning”, and so on. All good to do, but as you say it needs to be done from that basic understanding that they are different forms.


      1. Fascinating, thanks Arti. Reminded me of how British actors, overall, have tended to move a little more seamlessly between film and TV and theatre, like say Judith Dench and Maggie Smith, than Americans. Now things might be changing.


    1. DL,

      Just a hunch… I think you’d like The Miniaturist. And do watch for the TV series American Gods coming 2017. Gillian Anderson plays the god called Media.


  4. American Gods sounds interesting, even though I’ve never become a Gaiman fan. (Interesting, that i don’t read his writing, but take great inspiration from his how-to-write tips.) It occurs to me that, just as Aztecs sacrificed members of their community to their gods, we’re more than willing to sacrifice some of our own to the triune gods — not to mention common sense, etc.

    The Miniaturist brought back my little doll house, in all its glory. Doll houses are different, of course, but it did make the premise of the story even more interesting.


    1. Linda,

      In my case, it’s Stephen King. I’m not a fan, haven’t read his work except his non-fiction book On Writing. Lots of writing tips and helpful anecdotes from his own writing experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I knew about American Gods and am looking forward to that one. Had no idea about Alias Grace. It had better be done right! Will be interested to see what gets done with The Luminaries.


    1. Stefanie,

      Yes, you’re a fantasy fan, aren’t you? American Gods looks intriguing. BTW, are you going to watch Doctor Strange? It comes with high acclaims.


  6. Just love these posts, Arti! Alias Grace will be my top choice, but I’m also interested in The Luminaries. That book has been in and out of my hands so many times at the library and bookstores, but never seems to make the final cut… mostly because of the length. Not sure I’ll feel compelled to read it before viewing.


    1. JoAnn,

      Glad you enjoy this kind of posts. I’ve one coming up that’s from Books to Films on the big screen. Now that one has a lot of interesting titles and cast updates. I’m sure you’ll like it too. 😉 And yes, I’m afraid the length of The Luminaries is a major obstacle for many readers. So, a six-part TV series sounds more appealing.


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