2017 was a bumper year for book to screen adaptations, and this week the team have been looking back over some of their favourites. By no means an exhaustive list, here are some of The London Book Fair team’s top picks…
Before I Fall
Najmun, Marketing & Conference Co-ordinator
A young-adult adaptation, which explores themes about the importance of second chances and seeing beyond what is superficial to what really matters; family and friends and being true to who you are. Director Ry Russo-Young truly captures the soul of Oliver’s book while making certain aspects ambiguous for the audience. Ultimately, it is Zooey Deutch’s performance as Sam that makes Before I Fall so beautifully poignant.
Amy, Sales Executive
Hidden Figures tells the incredible story of three female African-American mathematicians and the vital roles they played working for NASA. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson are human computers whose worth is finally recognised when they become the brains behind the attempt to launch John Glenn into orbit. The feverish competition of the Space Race balances perfectly with the empowerment of these women to create a truly inspirational film.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Fran, Marketing Executive
Based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian future where women are chattels. An intensely atmospheric and ghoulish adaptation, it has already been promised a second season, and has brought Atwood’s seminal story to a new generation. Margaret Atwood herself even appeared briefly in the series, and Elizabeth Moss as the main protagonist is electrifying. Not light-hearted viewing, but with multiple Emmy nominations in its pockets, it’s worth the watch.
Kat, Sales Manager
Hit TV show Outlander, a US-Scottish co-production, returned to TV screens in September 2017, much to the delight of its global fan audience, following a 14-month production break. Now in its third season, Outlander tells the story of WWII combat nurse Claire, who ends up travelling back in time to rural 18th century Scotland, where she gets swept up in one adventure after another and finds love with Highlander Jamie Fraser. Based on Diana Gabaldon’s 8-volume book series, Outlander has been capturing both readers’ and viewers’ hearts for over 25 years. Much has been written about its enduring appeal, which critics have often attributed to it being steadfastly genre-defying – combining elements of period drama, romance, sci-fi, and fantasy. With the fourth series set to air in 2018, and a ninth book currently in production, much of Claire and Jamie’s story has yet to be told.
Big Little Lies
Emily, Marketing Executive
In 2017, Australian author Liane Moriarty gained worldwide attention with the HBO television adaptation of her 2014 novel, Big Little Lies. From the kinetic opening sequence, the viewer is plunged into the world of Moriarty’s complex characters – adults who act like children and children wise beyond their years. The book makes the seamless transition from the northern beaches of Sydney to Northern California, and its star-studded cast (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, to name just a few) do justice to the serious themes of Moriarty’s book: family violence, marriage breakdown and schoolyard bullying. A catchy soundtrack and stunning cinematography add light to an otherwise dark tale of secrets and lies.
Orna, Conference Manager
Having relished Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, I started watching the TV miniseries prepared to be disappointed. From the first few scenes, my prejudices melted away, and I settled in to enjoy thoroughly the beautifully produced, visually pleasing and cleverly executed adaptation. The tension between the well-chosen characters was palpable: Anya Taylor-Joy, in particular held my attention and her silences communicated more than her words. Alex Hassell’s Brandt was not how I had imagined, but that didn’t matter. He portrays the impossible situation of being a gay man in high position, in 1700s Amsterdam, with sensitivity and emotion. The complex relationships and secrets of the inhabitants of Brandt’s house provide the backbone of the tension, plot and themes. I particularly enjoyed the portrayals of the house servants, who continue to surprise and challenge preconceptions. As with many adaptations, the strength of an excellent book translates well to a myriad of other platforms, and The Miniaturist is a fine example.