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From the Pages to the Screen: Our Favourite Book Adaptations

By Lucy Lillystone, Ellie Brady, Kelly Stone, Amy Wright, Sarah Lundy and Ana Matute

With the recent announcement of some of our favourite books being adapted for both TV and film; from Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love to Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie, we’ve compiled a list of some of our past favourite book-to-screen adaptations to get everyone hyped.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth follows two best friends living in Manchester. Laura and Tyler love to drink, party and ultimately avoid adulthood and responsibility. As they enter their early thirties, the two must face a reality check, and multiple changes and challenges begin to threaten their chaotic friendship. Animals was adapted into a film in 2019 by Sophie Hyde, where it is set in Dublin rather than Manchester. Starring Holliday Grainger, the adaptation perfectly captures the intimate bond between the two friends. Unsworth’s characterisation is recognisable in the pair’s hilarious chemistry, and we witness the extreme highs and the uncomfortable lows of these deeply flawed yet lovable, real characters.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

The Coen Brothers' 2007 crime/thriller No Country for Old Men is one of the most critically acclaimed book adaptations of all time. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s book of the same name, the film changes little of the original context, tone and phrasing of the novel itself. The premise of McCarthy’s novel is simple: Llewellyn Moss happens upon a drug deal gone awry in the desert while out hunting and returns home with the cash that was never claimed. He goes on the run, trailed by the money’s rightful recipient, and those in his life suffer in the fall out. McCarthy’s spare writing style and ability to avoid cliché translate beautifully on-screen, making this a book adaptation for the history books.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Kepnes’ 2014 thriller You follows narrator Joe Goldberg’s obsession with a woman who walks into his bookstore. Joe will do anything to win her over, from stalking her social media to killing anyone who stands in his way. The television adaptation starring Penn Badgely became hugely popular once it landed on Netflix in 2018 and the third season is set to premiere this Autumn. The book’s sequels, Hidden Bodies and You Love Me, feature new characters and storylines that also appear on the show. Yet, the show diverges from the source material in a way that takes these characters to new depths, and this upcoming season is sure to be full of unexpected twists for book and show fans alike.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

With the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends in the works and with the new release of Beautiful World, Where Are You, it seems fitting to talk about the 2020 TV adaptation of Rooney’s 2018 novel, Normal People. Consisting of twelve thirty-minute-long episodes starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, the plot of the show is identical to the novel, with both actors perfectly bringing to life the complexity of their respective characters. There’s an intimacy to the cinematography that mirrors the way the novel sucks you in through its narration, with the ending also mirroring the ambiguity of Rooney’s final page. This adaptation perfectly captures the societal impediments of true love, making viewers cry, laugh and smile in its simplicity. If you’re looking for something to binge while you wait for Conversations with Friends, look no further than Normal People.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This beautiful novel is one many people go back to again and again. It’s a comfort blanket that welcomes you home each time. Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation perfectly allows you to return to this world in just two glorious hours. It effortlessly dives into the characters of the March sisters that goes beyond the 2D portrayals that people occasionally project onto them; Amy is more than the whining little sister, Jo is more than headstrong child. Gerwig flawlessly shows each sister’s own path in a gentle and celebratory light. This is truly the perfect book and film to curl up with as the nights start drawing in.

Oblivion: A Memoir by Héctor Abad Faciolince

Knowing about Colombia's reality and history is quite difficult since the years keep passing like leaves in Autumn. This memoir talks about the life of Faciolince’s father, Héctor Abad Gómez, and how he helped to search for solutions to the inequity in healthcare in Colombia. Reading this novel creates a very strong sense of nostalgia for other lives, lives that we couldn't live. This is what the movie focused on, showing how in the context all lives were impacted by violent situations related to an armed conflict. It shows a life that, in an extraordinary way, changed political history.


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