Somehow, we’ve made it to the half-way point of 2017. As always, this year I’ve been participating in a Goodreads reading challenge, and while browsing my progress recently an idea struck me: some of these books would make great films!
Several times in the past, I’ve shared books I would love to see adapted for the big screen. Today I continue that tradition, with reads from the first half of 2017. Here are five that should be made into films!
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Claire and Sydney Waverley were raised by their grandmother in an old house that has been in the family for generations. While Sydney was rebellious and eager to leave their small town, Claire stayed behind, turning her family recipes into a successful catering business and remaining in the family home. Years later, when Sydney returns unexpectedly with a daughter of her own, Claire’s peaceful, routine world is turned upside down.
I spent my childhood soaking up my Grammy’s stories about the family’s spooky old house in Kentucky, where she was born. Inspired by Grammy’s stories, I have a real soft spot for Southern fiction. Garden Spells is not only set in North Carolina, but also incorporates magical realism, another of my literary buzzwords. The book was practically made for me.
I also think it was practically made for the screen. Following the women of the Waverley family, Garden Spells has its fair share of romance, but also explores sisterhood, relationships between mothers and daughters, the small town gossip mill, and family history/tradition. Give it a script that emphasizes the reconnection/growth of the sisters, and I’ll be the first in line to buy a ticket.
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
I would not consider this one of my favorite reads of the year. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads, but would have put it at 2.5 if that was an option. It was a quick and easy read, but a little heavy-handed in its use of religious themes. Still, I think the bones of the story would make for a great film.
The Wedding Dress follows Charlotte, a bridal boutique owner living in Alabama. She runs her shop with the help of a sassy assistant. After years of helping brides “say yes to the dress,” her own wedding is on the horizon, but she’s getting cold feet.
The key to Charlotte’s problem comes in the form of an old, beaten-up trunk with a rusty lock. Once she’s able to get the thing open, she finds an antique wedding dress inside, and goes on a hunt to reveal the history of the dress.
It turns out at the dress has been worn by three brides (in the 1910s, 1930s, and 1960s). Charlotte’s assistant comes to think Charlotte is destined to wear it as well. With four different eras/generations to explore, plus elements of mystery and magic to intrigue the viewer (along with the various romances), this could make a great film with the right screenwriter at the helm.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
This novel had been on my to-read list for years by the time I finally got around to reading it, but I’m glad I made time for it in this year’s reading challenge. It’s a story of an unexpected friendship between a 17-year-old foster child, soon to age out of the foster system, and the 91-year-old woman whose attic she’s cleaning out as part of a community service project.
Unbeknownst to 17-year-old Molly, she has a lot in common with 91-year-old Vivian. The novel’s title, Orphan Train, refers to Vivian’s childhood as a young Irish girl, sent by train to the Midwest with hundreds of other orphaned children. For me, the most interesting part of the novel was the rich description and historical detail of Vivian’s childhood experience, but the framework of her much later friendship with Molly would be lovely to watch on screen, too.
There’s a chance this one will make it to the screen, as it’s been optioned. In late 2015 it was announced that Christopher Monger (Temple Grandin) would pen the script, but I was unable to find any more recent updates.
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Yes, another book by Christina Baker Kline! Orphan Train was one of my earliest reads of the year. I picked this one up more recently, around Memorial Day, after receiving it as a gift from my dad.
A Piece of the World would make for an interesting film adaptation because of its source material. The novel was inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World. Kline crafts a fascinating narrative in imagining the inspiration for the painting, which would be ripe for a screen adaptation regardless of which painting had been referenced. But Wyeth’s art sets it up for a visual feast.
A big, old farmhouse in a golden field. Sounds a bit like Days of Heaven, eh? Obviously, a film adaptation would want to avoid borrowing too much inspiration from Days of Heaven, or relying too heavily on the imagery Wyeth’s painting itself. But between the sailing scenes and the shell room and the expansive fields, a film version of this book is basically guaranteed to be beautiful. I could see it in my head while reading, and I’d love to see it come to life on the big screen.
The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Queen’s Accomplice is actually the sixth book in a series, the Maggie Hope Mysteries. I was gifted this book by my sister for Christmas and rather than going my usual route, tracking down the first five books and reading them in order, I just jumped right into it. It works perfectly well as a standalone and would make a great film, too. (Alternately, I would also be happy with a TV series based on all of the Maggie Hope Mysteries!)
It’s a World War II story, set in England in the middle of the war. Maggie Hope is a spy and codebreaker, a brilliant and quite fearless woman, working with MI-5 and even the Queen herself to crack cases. When a killer begins targeting young female spies, it’s up to Maggie to crack the case, saving both her colleagues and herself.
MacNeal offers plenty of historical detail and vivid description that really brings England during the early 1940s to life, making the book a great jumping off point for a script. Beyond that, the story has more than enough suspense, danger, and sleuthing to make for an exciting film. Maggie Hope is a wonderful character, and the book is also peppered with supporting characters every bit as interesting.
If I had to pick one, I’d go with the fifth one, The Queen’s Accomplice. Though many modern films feature spies with WWII as a backdrop, it’s a time and story I still like to see visited. While you were reading it, what current actress did you picture in the role?
When they’re done well, you can never have enough WWII spy stories! I liked this character’s blend of military spy and gumshoe. Made for a fun and suspenseful read. I haven’t thought of a modern actress I’d cast. I’ll have to get back to you on that!
Cool list! I haven’t heard of some of these books before. Garden Spells sounds so interesting, I’ve added it to be TBR ASAP. :D
Great to hear! Hope you enjoy it!