Books to Screen in 2022

What to read and watch in this new year? Here’s a list of movie adaptations, some just announced, some in development and some filming. If Omicron doesn’t have its way and productions can continue, we’ll likely see them come out this year. Of course, things are as fluid as ever, but the books are always there for us to explore.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

To be directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, 2017) with a star-studded cast including Andrew Garfield, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, Joe Alwyn and Rooney Mara. Although the 2008 rendition is a fine one, I welcome a fresh take. Andrew Garfield has proven to be highly versatile, would make an effective Charles Ryder. I’m eager to see Cate Blanchett as Lady Marchmain, and Ralph Fiennes would likely deliver lots of drama, especially under the helm of Guadagnino.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

Published in Jan 2018, selected as Reese’s Book Club pick in June 2019, the adaptation will likely star Reese Witherspoon as the protagonist Susan Green, who is unexpectedly pregnant at 45. Currently a feature film in development by Netflix. The short phrases on the cover make an effective blurb: ‘It’s never too late to bloom,’ and this one: ‘Even the prickliest cactus has its flower.’

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

With every book she published, Irish author Rooney is shot to a higher plane. Conversations with Friends is her debut novel, followed by the acclaimed Normal People, which already has an impressive screen adaptation. Beautiful World, Where Are You is her notable latest whose film rights will likely be snatched up soon I presume. Conversations with Friends is a simpler and more quiet novel, not less entangled with human relationships, with two young people grappling with love and life. Coming out this year as a series on Hulu.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

The film rights of this wildly popular, food-rich memoir of Zauner growing up Korean American has been sold to MGM’s Orion Pictures. Zauner will be adapting her book to the screen, chronicling her growing up as a mixed race gal in Oregon, and how her relationship with her cancer stricken mother has led her to discover her Asian root. Zauner will also provide the soundtrack for the feature with her own indie music band Japanese Breakfast.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

Several of Paul Gallico’s stories had been adapted onto screen, on top of his own screenwriting work. This one sounds cheery, just right for an uncertain new year. Mrs. Harris, a London charlady, discovers Dior when tidying the fancy wardrobe of one of her clients, Lady Dant. Paris becomes her dream and goal. When finally she has saved enough to head over to the House of Dior in Paris, she finds a new world and adventure awaits her. Delightful, isn’t it? What’s more enticing is the cast, two ladies, Leslie Manville and Isabel Huppert.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

This will be the second adaptation of Ferrante’s works, after The Lost Daughter (my Ripple review coming soon.) Another Netflix development, The Lying Life will be a series to be shot in Naples. Giovanna is a young woman growing up in Neapolitan society struggling to navigate the adult world and seeking for what’s real. The series will be in Italian, but just like Ferrante’s books, the appeal and relevance will be international.

She Said by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey

Subtitled: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. NYT journalists Kantor and Twohey were winners of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for their work in exposing the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s longtime sexual misconduct, incendiary journalism that led to the #MeToo Movement. Screen adaptation directed by Maria Schrader; Carey Mulligan plays Twohey, Zoe Kazan as Kantor, Patricia Clarkson, editor Rebecca Corbett. Mulligan is an ideal cast on the heels of her impressive Oscar nominated role in Promising Young Woman.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A. J. Fikry is a bookseller whose personal life is just as disappointing as the sales of his books. While there are people around him who are steadfast in their support for him, it’s an unexpected package, a baby, outside his door one fateful day that turns his life around and gives him a new view of things. A booklovers’ story. Screenplay written by the author Zevin, directed by Hans Canosa.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Reviewed on the NYT as a Mennonite #MeToo novel, this time the Mennonite community Canadian author Toews writes about is fictional, and the horrors the girls and women experience therein make this a crime thriller. But Toews apparently intends more than just to shock. Deeper issues such as collective guilt, the existence of evil, and forgiveness are explored. Movie adaptation directed by the acclaimed Sarah Polley (Oscar nom Adapted Screenplay for Away From Her), great cast with Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie

This Christie mystery without Hercule Poirot but featuring two amateur sleuths was a beloved novel of British actor Hugh Laurie (Dr. House) back in his youth. He’ll write and direct the 3-part adaptation. Christie’s book, published in 1934, tells the story of two friends while looking for a golf ball discover a dying man whose last words––the eponymous title of the book––lead them to the investigation of the mystery. Laurie fans would be glad to actually see him in a role as Dr. Nicholson.

New Announcements of Books to Screen

Some exciting announcements of upcoming adaptations:

howards-end-by-e-m-forsterHowards End by E. M. Forster

E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End is to be adapted into a four-part TV miniseries produced by BBC and Starz, to be helmed by the Oscar nominated Manchester by the Sea director Kenneth Lonergan. Hayley Atwell plays Margaret Schlegel, Matthew Macfayden takes the role of Henry Wilcox, and Tracey Ullman is Aunt Juley Mund. I just can’t help but compare this new cast to that of the, shall I say, definitive 1992 Merchant Ivory production with Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave. Inimitable. Yet, I’m glad to hear of a rebirth of this brilliant E. M. Forster novel.


guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-societyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Anne Barrows and Maryanne Shaffer

At long last, the best-selling novel (2009) is finally adapted for the big screen, renamed Guernsey. Phew! While its popularity has subsided by now, I hope the movie will revive it, for it’s a delightful read and the characters are resilient residents on German occupied Guernsey Island during WWII. Written as a series of letters between a London writer Juliet Ashton and her friend and publisher Sydney Stark and later, with the charming Guernsey folks, the book exalts the power of reading, not potato peeling. How do you turn epistles into a movie? We’ll have to see. Downton Abbey‘s Lily James will play Juliet, after first Kate Winslet then Rosamund Pike dropped out. Hope this will go to completion. The director is Mike Newell, known for Great Expectations (2012), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), and perhaps the most memorable, Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).


the-child-in-timeThe Child in Time by Ian McEwan

At last something to look forward to after Downton. Ian McEwan’s Whitbread winning novel (1987) about the perpetual trauma of a lost child will be adapted into a 90 min. TV drama co-produced by BBC and Masterpiece. Benedict Cumberbatch to star. With the Sherlock series going down an erratic rather than rational path, I hope this one is a more grounded outlet for Benedict’s superb acting skills, like his Parade’s End (2013). This is his second time in a McEwan novel. Back in 2007, he played a supporting role in the Oscar nominated Atonement, relatively unknown, stressing on the ‘relatively’. And hats off to actors who can navigate freely between the big and small screen platforms.



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The Sea Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Glad to learn that Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long, The English Patient) is stepping out from her long acting career into the director’s chair, and acting too in this adaptation of English author Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel. While I haven’t read any of Howard’s works, I’d seen the screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s, and that’s her screenplay for the Oscar winning Polish film Ida (2013). I highly anticipate Lenkiewicz’s new work. Glad she’s collaborating with Scott Thomas in her directorial debut. Mark Strong is said to be in talks to join the project. Of course, my dream cast would be Colin Firth with Kristin Scott Thomas.




Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

According to director Jon Chu (Now You See Me 2), this will be “the first all-Asian cast feature from a Hollywood studio in a long, long time.” Umm… since Joy Luck Club (1993) that is. A risk or a good opportunity? Constance Wu (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”) is on board to play a major role. If you’ve not read the book, rest assure that with a title like this, it has got to be a satire, and not a get-rich-quick manual. Not that I’m crazy, nor rich, but reading Kwan’s imaginary yet true-to-life characters is an extravagantly wild ride. His astute and bold satire of modern day’s opulent Singaporean families (his own cultural background) is what Jane Austen would have loved to poke fun of if she found herself in a 21st century rich Asian home. But of course, just like the writing of our dear Jane of yesteryears, the heroine (Rachel in Kwan’s book) is your everyday middle class, highly educated yet modest gal growing up in (immigrant) America, finding (surprise!) that her boyfriend actually is Mr. Darcy incognito when she travels back with him to his family home in Singapore for the wedding of his best friend. I highly anticipate this one, but with great trepidations. They better make this work, or it could easily be a disaster of ethnic proportions.


Related Post on Ripple Effects:

Howard’s End by E. M. Forster
Ida’s Choice: Thoughts on Pawlikowski’s Ida
I’ve Loved You So Long movie review
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book Review