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Image / Living / Culture

Phoebe Dynevor to star in screen adaptation of Naoise Dolan’s ‘Exciting Times’


by Sarah Finnan
18th Aug 2021

Phoebe Dynevor / Instagram

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Naoise Dolan’s debut novel ‘Exciting Times’ is the latest novel to get the TV treatment.

In very exciting news (sorry, couldn’t help myself!), Naoise Dolan has confirmed that her debut novel Exciting Times will be adapted for the big screen… and as if that wasn’t thrilling enough, Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor will both star and executive produce the upcoming series too. 

Helmed by Black Bear Pictures (The Imitation Game), Deadline reports that they optioned the rights to the book even before it was released over in the US last summer, such was their faith in its success. Subsequently picked up by Amazon Studios, they’ll work closely with the team at Black Bear to develop the project. While director Cooper Raiff and Dolan herself will collaborate to co-write the screenplay. 

Described as a “clever and biting story” that “explores contemporary romance with a twist”, the novel centres on Ava; a young, 20-something who flees Dublin in search of adventure over in Hong Kong. Securing a badly paid job as an English language teacher, Ava soon finds herself entangled in a complicated love triangle with a male banker (Julian) and a female lawyer (Edith). 

In short, Ava befriends Julian, a witty British banker who “offers a shortcut into a lavish life her meagre salary could never allow”. Ignoring all of her feminist leanings and better instincts, Ava moves in with Julian allowing him to spoil her as she strikes up a sexual relationship with him. However, when Julian’s job unexpectedly takes him back to London, Ava stays put, unsure as to where that leaves them/their relationship. 

Enter Edith. A Hong Kong-born lawyer, Ava both wants her and wants to be her. Carefully pretending that Julian is nothing more than an “absentee roommate”, a surprise announcement that he’s returning to Hong Kong leaves Ava between a rock and a hard place. Stick with the “easy compatibility of her life with Julian”… or take a leap of faith into the unknown with Edith? 

As per the Goodreads description, “Politically alert, heartbreakingly raw, and dryly funny, Exciting Times is thrillingly attuned to the great freedoms and greater uncertainties of modern love. In stylish, uncluttered prose, Naoise Dolan dissects the personal and financial transactions that make up a life – and announces herself as a singular new voice.” Hooked yet? Thought so. 

Phoebe will take on the lead role of Ava though no other names have been associated with the project as of yet. Fresh off the success of her breakout role as Daphne Bridgerton, Dynevor is in hot demand these days, with two other movies already in the works.

Recently signing on to star in Sony Pictures’ I Heart Murder (a female-driven thriller), she’s also slated to take on the lead in an upcoming Sky original film titled The Colour Room. Stepping into the shoes of Clarice Cliff, the movie tells the tale of the Stoke-on-Trent ceramic artist who broke the glass ceiling and revolutionised the workplace for women in the 1920s. Matthew Goode, David Morrissey, Darci Shaw, Kerry Fox and Luke Norris are also expected to feature.

Of course news that Exciting Times will be adapted for the silver screen comes after the success of Normal People, which saw Sally Rooney’s novel play out with thanks to Daisy Edgar-Jones and breakout star Paul Mescal. Soon to give her debut novel Conversations With Friends the same treatment, filming on the project began up in Belfast earlier this year.

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