55 thoughts on “Five Books That Should Be Movies

  1. Oh, man, Indiana is an awesome novel. The heroine is Creole, so not your standard white girl portaganist, and it’s all meloncholy longing and unrequited love… but has a happy ending so yay!

  2. Any of the yet filmed Mrs Gaskell novels comes to my mind. She wrote Wives and Daughters, North and South, Cranford.

    1. Hi! All three of those have already been made for British television. Not sure if you’ve not seen them (get ready, they’re awesome!) or just meant they haven’t been put on the big screen (which I definitely think they should!) :)

            1. Mary Barton and Ruth have a huge social commentary on the poor, strong female characters and are mentioned in the Elizabeth Gaskell bio on the special features on the Wives and Daughters DVD. Sylvia’s Lover is another novel.

              1. there was supposed to be an adaptation of Mary Barton in the works but haven’t heard anything about it for some time so assume it got dropped.
                A week devoted to Wives and Daughters!!! I can’t wait.

  3. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, maybe a bit more on the modern side, but just a gorgeous book. I think the material would require a mini-series.

      1. Perhaps some historical sci-fi then? It’s a short story rather than a novel, but I think Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Sur” would make an awesome movie or miniseries. It’s about an expedition of South American women in the 19th century (I think, it’s been a while) who are secretly the first people to reach the South Pole.

  4. I endorse all of the above suggestions. Especially ‘A Suitable Boy’ which would make a wonderful miniseries. Its a little more modern, but its still set in the early 1950’s, so its historic. I *need* to see Meenakshi dancing the tango in a sari.

    On the subject of Alcott, if they want ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’, instead of messing around with Little Women, why not adapt some of Alcott’s lesser known Gothic works? If you want to know what Jo was writing in her attic….well, this is it. Curses, love triangles, attempted suicide, drug use, these works have it all.

  5. I think Hollywood doesn’t like taking chances, so they remake things instead of being original or going for a lesser known literary author. It’s really freaking annoying — it was nice when the BBC actually went into original programming with “Call the Midwife.” How many versions of Pride & Prejudice do we need? Or Jane Eyre? Of course, they took a chance on “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” and no one watched it, though I thought it was so great I went on and read the mammoth book they adapted it from.

    I’ll have to think about what books would translate well; there’s actually a few Dickens novels they’ve never done, if they MUST do a well-known author. I’d like to see a version of “Jane of Lantern Hill” that is actually like the book, which I loved as a child.

  6. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books–a faithful adaptation of the books, not like the shlocky 70’sTV show. I can’t figure out why Masterpiece hasn’t done that already. Though maybe (given Mercy Street) it’s just as well that they have not…

    1. I agree. I had a huge crush on Michael Landon and so gave a pass on the schlockiness. But a faithful adaptation would be great to see. No blood poisoning, no Albert, no tragic fire or exploding homes.

      If they want drama, there’s the winter the buffalo got frozen to the ground by their breath because it was so cold. The scarlet fever and Mary going blind. The grasshopper plague. Laura going away to teach and the mother of her “host family” standing by Laura’s bed with a butcher knife. Plenty of drama.

  7. I am not a fan of the Little House series, but what about Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdattir. Not only set in the Middle Ages, it won a Nobel Prize.

    1. The Lyman Chronicles were a pleasure to read. Well researched and written. I too would enjoy watching it. Perhaps with the success of Outlander, it might be made.

    2. OMG, I love Dorothy Dunnett. I thought there was talk of filming the Lymond chronicles, but WHO would play Lymond?

  8. This is in reply to Janette’s comment about the on hold adaptation of Mary Barton. I’m posting it here as the area involved in the post is a BIG open blank area. Thanks I didn’t know that.

    Hopefully, it will be given the green light soon.

  9. Fall on Your Knees desperately needs the HBO miniseries treatment (I’m thinking of the excellent job they did with Mildred Pierce and keeping it loyal to the book). It’s set in the 1880s through the 1960s (with most of the action in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s) and there’s so many moments of fashion written directly into the story, like daughter Kathleen’s amazing green 1918 dress, daughter Frances’s flapper costumes, and pianist Rose dressing in her father’s sharp pinstripe suit to pass as a man when stepping out.

    1. There is an AMAZING recent miniseries of Bkeak House!! (Though I’ve just realised it was 2005 eek). Anna Maxwell Martin, Gillian Anderson, Cary Mulligan, Charles Dance etc. It’s so beautifully done, and I did like the frocks too!

      1. There was an earlier Bleak House, with Diana Rigg. Unfortunately, it cut the entire Jellyby family, but Denholm Elliott was a terrific John Jarndyce.

  10. I’m amazed that there’s practically NOTHING based on Georgette Heyer’s novels. A lot of them are set in the Regency period, so there’s plenty of opportunities to raid the BBC wardrobe department.

    Also, I’ve seen The Rover at the RSC; I’d be one of the happiest girls in the world if they actually recorded it, like they’ve done for some of their other performances!

  11. though I am firmly of the mind that her politics should be viewed only as an extreme reaction to communism, Ayn Rand’s stuff could pretty easily translate to sexy modern fare- specifically We the Living, but the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged too (with more of a focus on story than on political proselytizing).

    Staying on the subject of lady-authors, Daphne du Maurier’s stuff could be pretty sexy (though I pity the director to follow Hitchcock on Rebecca)- the book of short stories called “the doll” has some great premises, especially the title story- could tie into modern ideas about AI..

    non-lady-specific, I’d love to see -good- versions of A Tale of two Cities, the House of Seven Gables, or the Rise of Silas Lapham.

    .. if any of those already exist, i am unaware of them and would love to be alerted!

    1. The BBC have done two (at least) versions of Rebecca the first in the 70s/80s starring Joanna David and Jeremy Brett and the more recent, late 1990s starring Joanna’s daughter, Emilia Fox and Charles Dance which I highly recommend.

  12. I loved the BBC’s adaptation of Daniel Deronda & Middlemarsh, but George Eliot has another great book, Romola, which would be a good choice. Set in Renaissance Florence the main character Romola is the sister of a Medici sponsored cleric.

  13. Fanny Burney’s ‘Cecilia’ would make an excellent mini-series; it might have to be abridged, but the story is full of humour, frustration, danger and romance. Excellent portrait of the darker side to 1770s high society.

  14. Glorious amounts of yes to any Isabel Allende adaptation!!! As far as I’ve heard, Chilean tv has done an adaptation of “Inés del alma mía” (sorry, no idea how it translates to English), and it’s got good reviews. Haven’t had the chance to watch it yet but hopefully I will soon!

  15. I’ve always thought Alcott’s “An Old-Fashioned Girl” would make a good movie. I love that Polly isn’t just some damsel in distress waiting for a guy to save her, but is an independent, self sufficient woman making a place for herself despite the odds against her. And while she does get married in the end, it’s not because she “needs” a man to take care of her (if I recall correctly, she rejected the proposal of a “most eligible bachelor”), but because the boy she loves finally grew into a man she could respect, who respects her too.

    1. That’s my favorite book of Alcott’s too. Polly isn’t just some Goodie-goodie, she’s a real, fully fleshed out character with strengths and weaknesses. I think it’d make a wonderful miniseries. and Tom was one of my favorite male characters in her books.

  16. How about “Voodoo Dreams” by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It’s a novel about the famous Voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau, during the early 1820s. Or “Legacy” by Susan Kay, a novel about Queen Elizabeth I. I sitll long for someone to do a television adaptation of some of Susan Howatch’s novels – especially “The Wheel of Fortune” and “Cashelmara”. I understand an adaptation of “Penmarric” was done back in 1979, but the BBC did a crappy job of it. Or perhaps novels like M.M. Kaye’s “Shadow of the Moon” or Valerie Fitzgerald’s “Zemindar”. But it’s possible that a movie or television adaptation of a story set during the Sepoy Rebellion might be a bit controversial.

    1. YES!!!!!!!!!!!! A re-do of Penmarric(which I never did get to see) but The Wheel of Fortune and Cashelmara!

    2. @ladylavinia1932: “Legacy” by Susan Kay, a novel about Queen Elizabeth I.

      YES YES YES. I know there have been a lot of productions about QEI but apart from 1971 Elizabeth R, none have really got me at all. I love the book Legacy. I quite like the supernatural element but the character of Elizabeth is there. She glitters from every page. My only concern….someone would probably ruin it. It would need to be filmed exactly.
      Susan Kay also did “Phantom” about the Phantom of the Opera. Not sure if it would be viewed strictly historical but its probably as good as Legacy. (oddly enough, I’m just in the middle of Legacy now).

  17. What about a remake of Desiree? Brando and Jean Simmons were in the original, along with Merle Oberon.
    There’s a great historical novel about Queen Lakshmibai of Jhansi by Michelle Moran.

  18. I would love to see LA Meyer’s Bloody Jack Adventure series made into a BBC-style TV series. It’s about an fantastic female protagonist in the early 1800s, who goes off on all sorts of adventures (piracy, tangles with slavers, battling in the Napoleonic war, spying for the British, etc). There’s 13 books total, and every single one is excellent, and would translate wonderfully to film.

  19. Remember Ellis Peters of Brother Cadfael fame? Ellis Peter’s real name is Edith Pargeter and she wrote a trilogy called The Heaven Tree Trilogy, fiction set in medieval times in Britain. It’s a wonderful love triangle story. It reminds me of Pillars of the Earth but I think it’s much better. I’d like to see all 3 books made into a TV series.

  20. I love Georgette Heyer. My favorite is “The Grand Sophy”. My dream is to write it into a screenplay (I am so not qualitied to do that!)
    The other suggestion I have is “No Name” by Wilkie Collins. Enough with “The Woman in White”. Or “Armadale”, which is also great. Actually, almost anything by Wilkie Collins!

  21. I am three years late to this party, but a hearty second for ‘Evelina!’ I found your page by searching to see if someone had made an adaptation of that. My other long-wished-for BBC miniseries would be Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Villette.’ Rounding out the rest of my list: ‘The Monk’ (Matthew Lewis), ‘No Name’ (Wilkie Collins) and Edith Wharton’s ‘The Custom of the Country’ (I would so envy the actress who got to play the awful Undine Spragg). Sinclair Lewis’ ‘Elmer Gantry’ deserves a serious remake too. Perfect story for our times–and it would make a wonderful miniseries.

  22. So many good suggestion! I now have even more books on my reading list. I’m going to go back to my high school days and suggest A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I loved that novel and would enjoy a new adaptation.

  23. how about Mill on the Floss by Geo. Eliot, An Old Fashioned Girl, or eight cousins by L.M. Alcott, the Peter Wimsey detective stories by Sayers, the Roman mysteries by Stephen Saylor, The Egyptian mysteries by Lynda Robinson, there’s LOTS of stories by Mark Twain that haven’t been done to death, the Silver Arrow by Conan Doyle, House of Seven Gables by Hawthorne, a really good Anne of Green Gables series (the one done by the BBC decades ago has the first one lost, and was an incredibly faithful adaption of the 2nd book.) the Valdimar series by Mercedes Lackey, the Pern series by Anne McCaffery, the Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklyn. heck even the Happy Hollisters series would be fun to watch!

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