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Image / Living / Culture

4 books worth reading before watching their film adaptations


by Jennifer McShane
15th Aug 2020
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Is the film ever as good as the book? We weigh in…


As a self-confessed cinephile and avid reader, I’m often torn between my love of an engrossing book and seeing it realised on screen. While we always hope movies will offer a different, highly visual take on the storytelling narrative, you can never tell how they will fare in comparison to their source material. Below are four books which have been recently adapted for the big screen (one of which is still in the works) and are worth reading regardless.

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

During the 1630s, the humble tulip was considered a thrillingly beautiful and new flower. Set against this background, Tulip Fever describes a love affair between the young wife of a wealthy merchant and the artist hired to paint her portrait. I remember being engrossed by the book when it was released back in 1999 – and the film was released quite under-the-radar though it was very watchable  The screenplay was written by Tom Stoppard, and it stars Alicia Vickander, Christoph Waltz and Cara Delevingne.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty received much attention thanks to a very nice plug on Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram book club, but it’s not all hot air; the book is a great read. The tale starts when a summer barbeque reveals old tensions between two friends and talk turns to one fateful event that changed everything. This is suspense at its best and so readable, it’s easy to see why the rights to this have already been snapped up by Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. No word on a release date for this yet but it has been in the pipeline for quite some time.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

Du Maurier’s classic, haunting novels (The Birds, Rebecca) have always been laced with intrigue and deception, but none quite like My Cousin Rachel. It’s a dark tale; Philip, a young man of wealthy means, slowly finds himself falling in love with his cousin Rachel, while also harbouring suspicions she may be responsible for the death of his godfather, Ambrose. Innocent or Guilty? It’s a question Du Maurier’s elegant prose will make you wonder of every character. Its film adaptation stars the always-intriguing Rachel Weisz as the titular cousin and it is a moody, evocative watch – but one which doesn’t quite live up to the glory of the novel.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Jeanette Walls’ extraordinary memoir detailing her unconventional poverty-stricken upbringing was such a success when it was released in 2005, It was a surprise to find it took so long to be made into a film. Jeannette’s parents are completely dysfunctional; when sober, her charismatic father was the centre of her (and her three siblings) universe but when he drank he was utterly destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity. The siblings were forced to raise themselves and against all odds, eventually, begin to forge lives for themselves. It’s one of those rare “unputdownable” books; a tale of sadness and redemption and a beautiful read. The film adaptation starred Brie Larson, who was a standout (it’s worth watching for her performance alone) but start with the book first.

Main photograph: Unsplash


Read more: #IMAGEReads: Four Irish books made for curling up with during a long weekend

Read more: The book you should re-read this summer: The Girls By Emma Cline

Read more: #IMAGEReads: Five new books to look forward to in June

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