As things go these days, uncertainties abound as to when movies will come out and in what way, big or small screen. So, for those who like to read before you leap, summer’s the best time to catch up with some of these books before their adaptations are released.
Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
The runaway bestseller of 2016 is now an upcoming movie on Netflix, directed by Ron Howard. Born and raised a ‘hillbilly’ in Ohio, Vance’s memoir narrates his struggles to arrive at Yale Law School, a personal victory over poverty and a dysfunctional family and culture. He shares insights as an insider of an impoverished social sector. Screenplay by Oscar-nominated Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water, 2017). Early Oscar buzz for next year’s Academy Awards and Amy Adams a possible nom.
Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith
Highsmith is no stranger to fans of suspense and psychological thrillers with Carol (2015), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and the Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train (1951). Deep Water (first pub. 1957) is another marital suspense thriller, directed by Adrian Lyne, who’d given us Fatal Attraction (1987), Unfaithful (2002) and the like. So, we know it’s in good hands. Gone Girl‘s Ben Affleck should be quite familiar with playing such genre, add in Ana de Armas, who’s superb in Knives Out, this one should be a thrilling escape.
The Last Duel by Eric Jager
The historical novel is The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France, sounds like a sensational movie subject. Author is Eric Jager, medieval literature prof at UCLA. Director is the iconic Ridley Scott, who has brought us numerous big screen epics, Blade Runner (1982), Gladiator (2000), Alien (1979, 2017), just to name a few. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon co-write and co-star, with Jodie Comer of Killing Eve fame also in.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Another TV series (Hulu) from popular Australian author Liane Moriarty whose Big Little Lies has been turned into two successful, star-studded Seasons on HBO. Nine strangers meet at a wellness resort dealing with their own issues and discovering secrets behind the place. Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy co-star. Moriarty has written 8 novels, so far, 5 of which are in various stages of development for the screen.
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
Nowadays you hear a lot about migrant workers. Back in the time after the Great Recession, there were workers living like nomads in their trailers and vans, travelling across the western states to look for work. Bruder’s book is about one such ‘workampers’, a woman in her sixties who becomes a nomad worker after losing her home. Frances McDormand stars. Written for the screen and directed by Chloé Zhao, who gave us the soulful The Rider (2017).
Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrell
Based on the second novel by Merrell published in 2014. Shirley here refers to the American horror/suspense writer Shirley Jackson, played by Elisabeth Moss. The story’s about a graduate student Fred and his wife Rose (Odessa Young) move in to live with professor Stanley Edgar Hyman, a literary critic teaching at Bennington College and his wife Shirley Jackson. Drama ensues when the characters interplay in their peculiar relational dynamics. Directed by Josephine Decker.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Irish millennial lit turned TV. And you thought the upstairs-downstairs kind of stories happen only in Downton Abbey. Rooney’s acclaimed book is about the clandestine romance between rich gal Marianne and Connell whose mother cleans Marianne’s house. The 12 episode TV series adaptation is affective and well performed by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal under the helms of Lenny Abrahamson (Room, 2015) and Hetti Macdonald (Howards End, 2017) On Hulu, BBC3, and CBC Gem now.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
Just announced. Booker Prize winning author Graham Swift’s novel will be adapted into film with a stellar British cast. Mothering Sunday was a day given to domestic servants time off so they could go back home to visit their mother and family. Again, a clandestine romance between two young people of different classes. Eva Husson (Hanna, 2020) directs onscreen royalty Olivia Coleman (QEII in The Crown), Colin Firth (KGVI in The King’s Speech), Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles in The Crown), and Odessa Young.
10 thoughts on “Books to Screen 2020 and Beyond”
I have a vague memory of hearing someone speak of ‘mothering Sunday,’ but I’m not sure now who it was. It might have been an older British friend who experienced many things I’ve otherwise only read of in books.
I have read J.D. Vance’s book, and it’s terrific. I’m glad to know that it’s being made into a film; I hope they do a good job of it.
I’d to look this up. Mothering Sunday started as a religious holiday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, a Moveable Feast. Now I think it’s more like our Mother’s Day. It’s the cast that pique my interest here.
I have also read Vance’s book and don’t think it’s terrific. The book I recommended reading instead in my blog post (Nov. 13, 2016) is Just Mercy. The one I recommend since then is Elizabeth Catte’s What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia.
I hate seeing Vance’s book made into a movie, where it will reach even more of my neighbors, who won’t put on masks and are flying banners on their houses showing that they hope that the president who is killing us all will be re-elected.
I’m up for Mothering Sunday with that cast and Normal People. Happy to give the rest a miss, I think.
Actually with things being so unpredictable nowadays, really don’t know when exactly they will be filmed or released and on which platform. Some theatrical releases are being held back due to Covid. Hope things will improve so they can start shooting. UK probably much sooner than the US. BTW, all 12 episodes of Normal People are out on Hulu now.
I liked reading Mothering Sunday, and I think that’s a film I want to see…
I’m reading it now, Lisa. 🙂
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I didn’t know Nine Perfect Strangers was being adapted.
Marg, it’s going to be a TV series on Hulu. Not sure when though.
Good list! The Last Duel and Hillbilly Elegy are certainty on my radar too. I am also looking forward to the adaptation of Paulette Jiles’ novel “News of the World” with Tom Hanks – should be something quite special.