Novellas in November… and their Screen Adaptations

Thanks to Rebecca of Bookish Beck and Cathy of 746 Books for hosting this event for a few years now, albeit this is the first time I join in. Looking at the stacks of book suggestions and reading their lists prompted me to jump on the bandwagon.

Keeping with Ripple Effects’ focus, I’ve selected four novellas for each week of November, books that have a movie adaptation or one in development. I’ll discuss both versions when I post. Here’s my list.

WEEK 1

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Emily Mortimer in The Bookshop

English writer Penelope Fitzgerald started her literary career as a biographer. Then in 1977, at the age of 60, she published her first novel. Over the next five years, she published four more. The Bookshop (1978) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and in the following year, she won the prize with Offshore (1979).

The Bookshop is adapted into a movie in 2017 by Spanish director Isabel Coixet. Cast includes Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, and Patricia Clarkson. Filming location is Northern Ireland. Now streaming on Kanopy.com

WEEK 2

Passing by Nella Larsen

Chicago born author Nella Larsen is the daughter of a Dutch mother and a father of mixed race Afro-Caribbean from Danish West Indies. With that multiplicity in racial background and the zeitgeist of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920’s and 1930’s NYC, Larsen wrote Passing (1929) about blacks passed as white in an acutely discriminatory society.

The movie adaptation is the directorial debut of English actress Rebecca Hall. Now, why would she be interested, or ‘qualified’ to appropriate this topic, write the screenplay and direct the film?

During interviews, Hall had revealed her own mixed race ancestry: her maternal grandfather was a light-skinned black man who had ‘passed’ as white. Learning about this hidden past of her family has realigned her own identity and prompted her to appreciate her ancestral roots.

Passing is currently released in select theatres for a limited time, and will be on Netflix beginning November 10, 2021.

WEEK 3

Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton

A lesser known novella by Wharton. Two sisters run a milliner shop decorating bonnets in a rundown neighbourhood of NYC. Leave them in Pulitzer winning Wharton’s hands, their story must be worth telling. I’m always intrigued by what sparks a filmmaker to take up the adaptation of a particular literary work. This will be another opportunity to find out.

Wharton’s most well-known film adaptation is perhaps The Age of Innocent. Bunner Sisters is a much smaller project and hopefully not less poignant. The TV movie is currently filming.

WEEK 4

Breakfast at Tiffany by Truman Capote

Capote’s 1958 novella has long become a contemporary classic with an equally renown adaptation that ignited the stardom of Audrey Hepburn. She has turned Holly Golightly from just a character to a symbol, just like Cat, the stray she finds in the alley.

The movie won two Oscars, both for the score and the song. The song? ‘Moon River’ by Henry Mancini of course. I still remember clearly the scene where Holly sits on the open window sill strumming a guitar and singing the song longingly. Thanks to Novella in November, I’ll take this time to reread and rewatch.

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Published by

Arti

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.

27 thoughts on “Novellas in November… and their Screen Adaptations”

  1. Edith Wharton’s writing makes my top ten list… there’s a deep psychological and cultural understanding in her work. And her words jump alive with the character’s voices (which might explain the smooth story to film component).
    Can’t wait for Bunner Sisters!

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    1. I won’t give out spoilers then re. Breakfast. I make this list mainly for the female protagonists the novellas portray… and two of their adaptations are works by female directors. Excited to begin Novellas in November. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Do check them out, Jeanie, both book and movie. It’s on Kanopy.com for me, but not sure about your area as I found it’s not always the same selections, like Netflix.

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  2. It’s Passing that’s on my list. *blush* I’d never heard of it (the book, that is) until I read The Vanishing Half.
    Cinemas have just opened up here in Melbourne, so who knows what films we’ll get to see. Hopefully not just the new ones but also the ones released while we were in lockdown too.

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    1. Lisa, I learned about the book Passing only in recent years too, as the racial tension turned more acute. But what’s impresses me is British actress Rebecca Hall taking up the adaptation, writing the screenplay and directing, all due to her affiliation with the characters in this conflicting issue of ‘passing’. Her film has gathered much acclaim in the Film Festival circuit this year and is one of my most anticipated movies of the year. 🙂

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    1. Of course, Andy Williams was the iconic singer of the song! Memories for me stretch way back to childhood when my family would gather in front of the TV to watch the Andy Williams Show. Love his voice!

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  3. Such an interesting list, Arti. I haven’t read any of those, though I love Wharton and have read a couple of her novellas, and I have Truman Capote and Penelope Fitzgerald on my TBR. However, I have seen The bookshop. Loved it. I’ve also seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but, you know, although I love Hepburn and Moon River, the film itself has never really stuck. I’d also like to read Capote’s original.

    BTW the novellas I though you might mention were Stephen King’s that resulted in Stand By Me, Apt Pupil, and The Shawshank Redemption. So impressive.

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    1. “Breakfast” for me would ‘stick’ more if not for a problematic character in it… will talk about that when I post.

      And, thanks for the excellent additions… definitely they are excellent book to screen examples. I must admit, these titles never came up in my mind when I made this list because I was focusing on more current film releases or those in development (except Breakfast), and in particular, I was trying to find female authors writing about female characters (except Capote here). I just finished watching the 2020 documentary “Audrey” on Netflix and is quite moved by the real Hepburn, prompting me to include “Breakfast”.

      I’ve another book in mind and that’s Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway”, it’s on my shelf and I haven’t watched the film with Vanessa Redgrave as Clarissa Dalloway. I just might add that in if I have time.

      BTW, and this is a confession… I haven’t read any of Steven King’s fiction, only his memoir “On Writing”, which is excellent.

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      1. I haven’t read King, either, except l think, the novella Apt Pupil was based on. I bought On writing for my son always intending to read it too but never have (yet).

        Mrs Dalloway is a good example, and the movie is good.

        BTW, I didn’t think of The bookshop as a current release? It seems years since I saw it?

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        1. The Bookshop is a 2017 movie. It’s currently available to watch on Kanopy, so maybe that’s what I meant by current. Actually it didn’t get a wide release until 2018.

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  4. Oooo….I need to add these to my TBR! I love when there’s a film or TV adaptation of a book to watch after I’ve read it. I had no idea that Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a book. *blush* Looking forward to reading your reviews of the books!

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      1. I just put Passing on hold at my local library. About 4 weeks wait time for that. And they had the audiobook available for The Bookshop so I just checked that out! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not sure The Bookshop lived up to the book – but then I think Penelope Fitzgerald is just wonderful and nothing could live up to her exquisite writing! Taking my youngest to see Breakfast At Tiffany’s tonight at the cinema, long time since I’ve seen it. Really looking forward to it – and to see what she makes of it.

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    1. Feel free to click on the link to my review of The Bookshop, book into movie. Also, what a wonderful experience to be able to bring your youngest to watch BAT and at the cinema. That must be a rarity! Thanks for visiting Ripple Effects. Hope to hear from you again. 😀

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      1. Thank you. Yes we are lucky to have a Cinematheque here in the city which is very cheap, and shows lots of old films and new documentaries there. I love it! I enjoyed your review of The Bookshop, and in fact and now reading it again.

        Greatly enjoyed BAT again, except, as you mention elsewhere, that awful problematic character. My youngest was appalled in fact, by the performance. It is a shame as it ruins an otherwise fine film.

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