Page to Screens I want to watch

Here are three excellent books that have been adapted to film. The first two were released in 2022 and the third comes out in 2023.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Kya Clark is six years old when her mother walks out of the shack they call home. The falling-down structure is hidden in the marshes of North Carolina, outside the fictional coastal town of Barkley Cove, a place where racial tension and small-town prejudices are firmly in place. The shack is the only place the Clark family knows, where her father’s abusive rages have terrified Kya, her mother and her siblings. Soon her older siblings run, leaving only Kya and her father, who provides her with nothing but fear. And then one day it’s just Kya, known in town and shunned as the wild Marsh Girl.

The story begins in 1952 and jumps to 1969, when a young man named Chase Andrews has died. In alternating chapters, readers learn Kya’s story of survival and how she becomes part of the investigation into Chase’s death.

The 2022 film, directed by Olivia Newman, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson. Screenplay by Lucy Alibar. It’s currently in theaters is available on Prime Video.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque: This is the story of World War I trench warfare and of Paul Baumer, a nineteen-year-old German soldier who has enlisted in the army. He and his schoolmates joined up at the recommendation of their schoolmaster and in short time must face the reality of a ruthless war. The novel mostly takes place on the front, where Paul and his comrades are fired upon and shelled and do the same to their French enemies in what becomes one of the most famous stalemates in history. Paul narrates his experiences and the deep bonds he develops with the men in his platoon, including the already close friendships with his boyhood friends and Albert Kropp, their superior.

The 2022 Netflix film, directed by Edward Berger, stars Daniel Brühl, Albrecht Schuch and Sebastian Hülk. Screenplay by Ian Stokell.


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann: a true-crime account of a shameful period of American history in which members of the Osage tribe were murdered for the headrights to oil-rich land on their reservation in Oklahoma. David Grann tells this shocking story, including the investigation of the murders led by J. Edgar Hoover’s newly-formed Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The events in Killers of the Flower Moon depict a deep-seated racism against the Osage, in which the white business leaders and citizens of Gray Horse, Oklahoma pretended to befriend and help the Osage, only to kill them for their money. Killers of the Flower Moon is a thorough historical account of the Osage murders, but this is one story you won’t see in school history books.

This upcoming 2023 film, directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone. Screenplay by Eric Roth.

Have you watched Where the Crawdads Sing and/or All Quiet on the Western Front? Do you want to watch Killers of the Flower Moon? All three are on my list. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

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Audiobook review: The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, read by Ann Marie Lee

The Woman
in the Window
by
A. J. Finn

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Here’s a quick audiobook review of The Woman by the Window by A. J. Finn, read by Ann Marie Lee. This is a suspenseful psychological thriller set in New York about a woman who has suffered an unexplained tragedy and now lives apart from her husband and young daughter. An agoraphobic, she hasn’t left her house in nearly a year. Instead, she watches old Hitchcock movies, drinks wine, self-medicates and spies on her neighbors through the zoom lens of a powerful camera. One day, she sees something terrible through the window of a new family’s home. When she tries to report it, no one believes her and she begins to wonder if she imagined it. Her increasingly frantic, and unreliable narrative places the reader (and listener) in the mind of an unraveling trained psychologist who can’t treat herself properly.

Through interactions with her family, psychiatrist, online chess players, fellow agoraphobes, her physical therapist, neighbors and the man who rents her basement apartment, Dr. Anna Fox’s back story comes into focus. But while the details of her story may become clear, what isn’t clear is whether she saw what she thought she saw. Readers may want to believe her because she describes the details so vividly, but there’s a lot else going on with the neighbors and her tenant to cause suspicion. As Fox continues to drink recklessly and down her medications in fistfuls, Finn propels Fox towards a tense showdown between her own demons and others.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Woman in the Window. Ann Marie Lee is a fantastic narrator of this excellent story. She effectively portrays a wide variety of characters, scenes and emotions and I was gripped throughout. One particularly emotional scene towards the end is especially convincing. I also like how Finn ties the old movies she watches into the plot, particularly Rear Window and Vertigo.

The unreleased 2020 film of The Woman in the Window is directed by Joe Wright and stars Amy Adams and Gary Oldman. It’s scheduled to be released on Netflix in 2021. Read more about the film here and here. I’m looking forward to watching it!

I recommend The Woman in the Window to readers and listeners who like psychological thrillers, though I wouldn’t recommend listening while you’re driving – it’s that engrossing!

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Audiobook review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova, narrated by the author

Still Alice
by
Lisa Genova

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I recently listened to Still Alice by Lisa Genova, a fictional account of a woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story begins with Alice Howland at the peak of her career. At fifty years old, she’s a renowned professor of psycholinguistics at Harvard University. She and her husband, John, a professor of biology, have spent their careers researching and teaching at Harvard. Despite some slight tension in their marriage over John’s lab schedule and a daughter who has skipped college to become an actress, everything is pretty good in the Howland family and with their two other adult children.

But then Alice starts forgetting things and gets lost after a jog, just minutes from her home. And worse lapses follow.

Alice and her family are stunned by the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The book looks at the disease from Alice’s point of view and chronicles her inevitable decline. Genova also shows how the family reacts. John’s denial and then his aggressive search for the best medicines and trials are a reflection of his scientific mind. Because her strain of the disease is genetic, their adult children grapple with the news and results of their own testing. The Howlands rally around Alice, but they also take inward paths. John is sometimes supportive and other times he escapes into his career. Their children are just beginning their adult lives, a period that’s meant for them, not a sick parent. Genova presents an interesting dynamic between the siblings and their parents and shows how they step up, and back, in different ways.

Alice copes in surprising ways. Her brilliant mind has enabled her to use creative work-arounds, a strategy that has likely covered up her disease before she was diagnosed. She offers surprising insight as she devises a private plan to measure and face her decline.

Genova outlines this heartbreaking scenario with detailed scientific explanations and provides many resources for patients and families who suffer with Alzheimer’s.

While I found the story compelling and important, I was disappointed in its telling. Genova presents her story awkwardly. It’s a third-person look into Alice’s mind, using a lot of plain dialogue and coupled with long and scientific explanations of the disease, reading more like an informational pamphlet than a novel. I wanted to learn more about the Howlands and felt these characters could have been better developed, a missed chance that could have made the story great. I was also sorry to have chosen the audiobook version. Genova’s narration was plain with little inflection, making the characters all sound the same. A professional narrator would have made a huge difference.

Still Alice was adapted to film in 2014 and stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parish. It was directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. The film won many awards and Moore won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

All-in-all, I’d recommend Still Alice to readers who want to know more about how Alzheimer’s affects its patients and their families, but I’d steer you to the print version.

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The Age of Innocence – the 1993 film

I can’t resist comparing a movie to the original book, can you? And this week I watched the 1993 adaptation of The Age of Innocence (read my review here). Edith Wharton won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book, which was first published in 1920.

The movie, directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Michelle Pfeiffer as Countess Ellen Olenska and Wynona Ryder as May Welland.  Like the book, the movie portrays a period of time on the verge of change and in which the New York upper class clings to appearances, convention and the subtle, but highly important details that define them.

The story revolves around Newland Archer, his wife May Welland and May’s cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who has just returned from Europe after a disastrous marriage. 1870s sparks fly between Newland and Ellen and the families use their powerful influence to avoid scandal, thwart the romance and save May’s marriage. This is a world in which the power of wealth depends on appearances and good manners.

I enjoyed watching this movie, which has beautiful costumes. It’s no surprise that the film won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Equally impressive is the great attention to detail inside these upper class New York homes:  the paintings, décor and dainty food served on beautiful china, depicted in almost every scene.

While the movie is very true to the book and gives a great visual of the characters and elite society, I thought that the rest of the film was, uh, a bit slow. Muted and subtle dialogue may be out of style for modern movie goers, where instant gratification, special effects and constant excitement make up the formula for today’s films. That makes this movie a little dated.

On the up side, Wynona Ryder’s excellent portrayal of May Welland earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. It was well-deserved:  I could see a knowing calculation in Ryder’s face in one of the most important scenes of the story, in which she reveals her pregnancy to Newland.

I recommend the film to fans of romantic period pieces, a nice movie for a rainy Sunday.

I read The Age of Innocence as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book that was made into a movie.

What are your favorite book-to-movie combos?

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