Earlier this year I read Lion, the true story of a little boy who survives the streets of Kolkata before being adopted by an Australian family. Years later, he tracks down his mother in rural India using Google Earth.
It became a hit movie, which inspired me to get cracking with novels on my TBR that are destined to reach our screens!
Ophelia, by Lisa Klein. Finished filming in July after shooting in the Czech Republic.
Not as passionate as Juliet, or as witty as Beatrice, Lisa Klein’s re-imagining of Hamlet from his love interest’s point of view has forever banished thoughts of Ophelia as a tragic waif.
We meet Ophelia as a motherless girl moving – with her ambitious father Polonius and callow brother Laertes – to the court of Danish King Hamlet.
Under Queen Gertrude’s rather capricious care, Ophelia grows into an intelligent woman. She becomes an expert in botany and herbology, curing the ailments of people at court. To escape the tragedy engulfing her country, she uses her skills to feign madness and death.
I was a bit doubtful when I read that the characters talk with ‘contemporary language’, but it’s not “Yo Hamlet, your mother’s a total MILF.” (Gertrude will be played by Naomi Watts.)
They don’t speak in blank verse, but there is a vivid sense of time and place – Klein is a professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. It’s an atmospheric YA novel with an impressive heroine, useful for young readers wanting to gain a better understanding of Shakespeare.
The Lost Wife, by Alyson Richman. Production status unknown!
Daisy Ridley is having a busy year (or two). In this, she is slated to play Lenka, a young art student living with her well-heeled Jewish family in pre-WWII Prague. She falls in love with a friend’s older brother, Josef, who is following his father’s footsteps into medicine.
They marry, but while Josef escapes with his family for the USA, Lenka’s own family are sent to the ghetto Terezin, where art became a way to resist the Nazi regime. She joins an underground painters’ movement, hiding or smuggling their work outside.
Richman, who studied art history, has written a very beautiful novel – chapters depicting Lenka’s life in Prague are irresistibly glamorous.
There seems to be few updates about the possible movie, but I hope they change it so that the ending….is at the end.
Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer. To be released on Netflix in the UK.
Four women are sent by a secretive government agency to investigate Area X, a stretch of quarantined coast in the USA. The Biologist, the Psychologist, the Surveyor and the Anthropologist (we are given no names) uncover a terrifying force writing on the walls of an uncharted subterranean tower: “Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner…”
As if I had breathed in the spores from the cover, the genre-defying Annihilation is immersive and sinister.
One issue I had was that it takes the Biologist’s field journal as source material. While she may be happy spending hours observing lifeforms in tidal pools, I’m not! (The novel also flashes back to her life with her husband, who volunteered for an earlier, doomed, expedition.)
I hope the movie doesn’t end up feeling like Alien Covenant – scientists behaving stupidly while trudging through the wilderness. Luckily, it’s directed by Alex Garland, who proved he knows a thing or two about creepy tension with Ex Machina!
The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber. Now an Amazon Pilot, renamed Oasis.
From a woman of science to a man of faith. King of the North Richard Madden has gone interstellar, playing a chaplain in this forgettable budget sci-fi, most notable for featuring Haley Joel Osment.
It seems unlikely it will go to series!
It takes as very loose inspiration Michel (Under the Skin) Faber’s melancholy novel The Book of Strange New Things (published in 2014 before the Netflix phenomenon). Chaplain Peter Leigh leaves his beloved wife for a job with a shadowy multinational, ministering to the native inhabitants of a distant colonized planet named Oasis.
Peter’s new congregation were introduced to the Bible by his (missing) predecessor. They’ve taken to it enthusiastically, calling themselves Jesus Lover One, Jesus Lover Two, etc. Their ‘faces’ resemble “a placenta with two foetuses…nestled knee to knee.”
To speak their language, Peter would “need to rip off his own head and gargle through the stump.” (Any linguists want a challenge?!)
A monumental, genre-defying novel about grief.