Books may seem to be a obvious starting point for a television series these days – after the enormous success of Game of Thrones, snapping up the latest best-seller to become a series seems a clear move. Here are some of the titles we think would make the next big hit.
The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller’s book focusing on the relationship between lovers Achilles and Patroclus would make perfect series fodder. Although lacking the length of Game of Thrones or recent BBC adaptation War and Peace, the epic breadth of both the romance between half-god Achilles and disgraced prince Patrocles, and the war the story spans, would be perfect television drama fodder. The Song of Achilles has been optioned for development by Caryn Mandabach Productions (producers of Peaky Blinders), which just might mean a future on the BBC for Miller’s novel.
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy
Libba Bray’s young-adult series has had a somewhat will-they-won’t-they relationship with adaptation, now seemingly stuck in the ‘won’t’ category. Focussing on Gemma Doyle, the trilogy – that begins with A Great and Terrible Beauty – blends the freedom of fantasy with the stringent rules of life for a woman in Victorian England, dealing with some feminist themes along the way. Although the novels are written for a young-adult audience, this series is definitely dark enough to fill the hole Penny Dreadful’s demise has left in television schedules – and is a lot less likely to kill off its main character in the last episode.
A Little Life
This monolith was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, and would be a tough task to adapt; relentless in its misery, Hanya Yanagihara’s book is seven hundred pages of the deeply depressing injustices faced by its protagonist, Jude St. Francis. But nestled amongst the gloom is an oddly timeless, beautiful depiction of New York, as well as an intricate network of relationships – some good, some bad – that ebb and flow with the fifty or so years the narrative tracks. Also, literally everyone I’ve recommended this book to has texted me at three a.m. to tell me that it made them cry, so HBO would probably love it.
The Book Thief
Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief was recently soullessly decimated adapted by Downton Abbey’s Brian Percival, a film that was mildly slated for playing it too safe. Perhaps the greatest sacrilege to the novel was great chunks that were cut out to fit it into two hours, meaning a lot of the nuances of the narrative were lost. Although the book is predominately aimed at teens, it deals with some dark themes, and the narrative could do with aging up a touch from the film’s more PG approach. A BBC mini-series seems to be in order.
Victor Hugo’s (XYZ)-page novel, often lovingly referred to by fans as the ‘brick’, certainly provides enough content for a television series or six – hence why Les Miserables has been adapted for television several times before. It’s the novel’s most recent reiteration that seems its most interesting, however, as Los Miserables sees Val Jean become Lucia in a modernised Spanish-language telenovela. The novel’s most television-ready saga is arguably the story of a band of student revolutionaries, and it would be interesting to see a series that focuses on their story, ideally with the same modernisation and gender-bending characters Los Miserables employs.
Andrew Davies, who adapted War and Peace for the BBC, has been sniffing around the novel for a while, and it was announced yesterday that the adaptation was going ahead with the BBC – but he’s not a fan of the musical, and after the pretty traditional War and Peace it seems unlikely that he’d embrace a female-Enjolras leading a diverse squad of modern day hipster-students to their doom. Shame.