Top Five Friday: Books That Should Be Movies

I’ve been thinking this week about movies based on books. I think it has something to do with all the adaptations that are either out now or coming soon – The Fault in Our Stars, Mockingjay, The Giver, etc.

I’m sure most people have at least one book that they feel deserves to be a movie. Plus, it’s always fun to think about which actors you would cast for the characters if you got to make the important decisions. So for today’s Top Five Friday, here is my list of books that deserve movie adaptations.

 

pavilions The Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye. Okay, I know this book already has a TV mini-series adaptation, but it’s from 1984, and I really think it deserves its own movie. The story is set in India in the late 1800s. A young boy named Ash who doesn’t know that he is British (makes sense when you read the book) and the Indian princess Anjuli are playmates when they are young. The book spans two decades, so you see Ash and Anjuli’s relationship develop as the people of India endure the Sepoy rebellion, British retaliation, and the Second Afghan War. Kaye’s historical and cultural details are so rich, and the story is really immersive.
 pink carnation The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig. Since this is one of my favorite book series, naturally I’d love to see it picked up for movie adaptations. It’s a dual timeline story; in modern London, an American grad student named Eloise is trying desperately to find source material for her dissertation on British spies in France during the Napoleonic Wars. She’s hoping her research on the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian will lead her to the identity of the highly effective and still unmasked spy, the Pink Carnation. In 1803, Amy Balcourt and her cousin Jane Wooliston sail to France to visit Amy’s brother, but Amy has an ulterior motive for the trip – to find the elusive British spy, the Purple Gentian, and establish herself as his second in command. Lots of swashbuckling, secret assignations, and snatching French aristocrats out from under the nose of the Chief of Police. I think the frame story format would make for a great movie.
 king The King Must Die, by Mary Renault. Movies based on myth tend to do pretty well – I’m thinking of Troy and Clash of the Titans, and there’s the new Hercules movie coming out in a few weeks. This is the story of the Greek hero Theseus coming into his own as a king, and it’s the story of the labyrinth and the Minotaur. Renault’s version is great! Political intrigue, revolution, romance, and mythology all packed together so that a story that feels familiar is also original and exciting. Also, I think Luke Evans would make a great Theseus. Just saying.
 chased the moon The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen. I think this story would go over well with people who like magical movies like Big Fish or southern movies like Steel Magnolias. Emily Benedict is in high school when her mother dies, and she moves to Mullaby, NC to live with her grandfather. It’s a small town, and Emily learns quickly that whatever scandalous past her mother had here (which somehow involved the prominent Coffey family) has caused the people of Mullaby to treat Emily with caution. Although she feels she has been singled out, Emily is hardly the only oddity in Mullaby – her grandfather is over eight feet tall, the wallpaper in her bedroom changes color to suit her mood, and mysterious lights dance in her backyard at night. Also, her neighbor Julia bakes cakes as an outlet for expressing her feelings and hopes that they can somehow bridge the gap between her and someone she used to love. It’s a story about second chances and about embracing the quirky things about yourself that make you who you are.
 cinder Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. So if I write a list like this again in a month, this book might not make the cut. But I just finished reading it last week, so it’s on my mind. This is a really interesting futuristic sci-fi take on the Cinderella fairytale. I can’t think of an adequate description at the moment, so here is what the book jacket says: “Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…  Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.” I feel like all the world building that Meyer does in this novel would make for a pretty awesome summer blockbuster.

There are so many other books I want to see made into movies. What about you?

Happy Friday, and Happy Fourth of July!

Fire from Heaven

Wherever you are, I hope you are inside and warm!  Thanks to Snowpocalypse 2014, I may never leave my house again.  My commute home, which usually takes 15-20 minutes, took me nearly five hours last night.  But Brad, Clouseau and I are all safe and home, so we have a lot to be thankful for.  And the University is closed today, which means I get to start some new books!  Lauren Willig had a great “if you like” blog post a year ago with a list of books to read about being snowed in, so perhaps I can start one of those.

A few days ago, my brother (hi Sib!) and I were talking about Mary Renault.  If you haven’t read anything by her, and you like Greek or Roman mythology, I would definitely give her a try!  I’ve read a few of her books and really enjoyed them, and my most recent one was Fire from Heaven.

Image*I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from Open Road Integrated Media.

The story of Alexander the Great is quite an undertaking. The politics of ancient Greece, with its kings and lords and constant wars could very easily make for a dry read. But Mary Renault has a gift for storytelling, especially storytelling that evokes Greek mythology. This is the first novel of her trilogy about Alexander, and it follows his story from the time he is a toddler living in the women’s chambers to the day he must take control of a vast kingdom and unruly army while he is still in his teens. Renault describes Alexander’s childhood with impressive sensitivity. Raised by a father and mother who were relentlessly at each other’s throats, Alexander is forced to take sides time and time again, and Renault allows the reader to see the cost of this consistent pressure on a growing boy. You can’t help but admire Alexander as he learns to navigate the waters of political and personal pressures, basically teaching himself how to be a man. He makes some mistakes, but you can see that the lessons he learns from them will enable him to be the King who forms one of the largest empires the world will ever know.

I read and loved Renault’s books about Theseus (The Bull from the Sea and The King Must Die), and I think this story is every bit as good. I can’t help but agree with what Hilary Mantel says in her introduction to this book – one of the best things about Renault’s writing is her refusal to explain or interpret ancient Greek customs and traditions through a modern lens. She doesn’t try to excuse or judge her characters’ actions. Even though the setting is completely foreign to me, I still felt like her characters were actual people, and I could understand their struggles or joys. Alexander lived over two thousand years ago, but Renault’s story made him real to me. I sympathized with his frustrations over his parents, and the scene where he first rides his famous horse, Bucephalus, was really moving.

If you’ve read Mary Renault, I’d love some suggestions for books that have a similar feel!  If you haven’t, do you have any mythology-themed books you’d recommend?