Breakfast at Tiffany's
A novella about a man called “Fred” who befriends an American geisha (as Capote described her) named Holly Golightly on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The book depicts Golightly’s escapades with rich men over the course of a year in 1943. The film, loosely based on the novella, stars the incomparable Audrey Hepburn and is a cult classic. I dare you not to feel a bittersweet pang when you hear “Moon River,” an original song for the 1961 adaptation.
Death Comes to Pemberley
P. D. James
Did you ever achingly wonder what happened to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy after the last page of Pride and Prejudice? P.D. James gives it to us. Six years into the Darcy’s marriage, we embark upon a delicious murder mystery with our beloved Austen characters. Adapted by the BBC, the movie contains all the British mannerisms and haunting scandals we’ve come to love.
Like Water for Chocolate
A magical realism novel of a young, Mexican girl named Tita who is thwarted from marrying her lover, Pedro, by the family tradition of the youngest daughter being the unwed caretaker of their mother. Tita can only express her love, sorrow, angst, and passion through cooking. One cup of the supernatural is a staple ingredient. The film is pure magic and faithful to Esquivel’s enchanting story. Warning: You may crave Mexican food immediately following.
Secrets of Eden
Told through the suspicious narration of Reverend Stephen Drew, this literary thriller asks readers to piece together the deaths of Alice and George Hayward, and most significantly, the complex nature of God, angels, and faith. Bohjalian is king of asking probing questions while keeping us guessing. The film adaptation, staring the winsome John Stamos, follows suit.
The Cider House Rules
Homer Wells grows up in an orphanage where he becomes a skilled medical assistant to the orphanage’s director, Dr. Larch, a secret abortionist. After meeting a young couple, Candy and Wally, in need of Dr. Larch’s ‘help,’ Homer decides to leave with them to Wally’s family orchard on Maine’s coast. When Wally goes missing in WWII, Homer comforts the heartsick Candy and an affair begins, setting off a succession of life-altering events for all. The film perfectly casts Tobey Maguire as kind-hearted Homer, and who could resist audacious beauty Charlize Theron as Candy?
The English Patient
The 1992 Man Booker Prize Winner, the book is a masterfully narrated by four people in an Italian villa during WWII. The story mainly focuses on the titular patient’s work in North Africa and his love affair with Mrs. Katharine Clifton prior to injury. As the story unfolds, the emotional burden of his past bears significant weight on the other three characters at the villa. Starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, the film is a tour de force that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Even my husband tears up at this one. Trust me, you will, too.
The Kite Runner
Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s violent political revolution, from the fall of its monarchy and Soviet military occupation to the exodus of refugees and the rise of the Taliban. The novel centers on Amir, a boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend, Hassan, is his father’s Hazara servant. A hateful crime against Hassan brings Amir lifelong guilt for which he spends the second half of the novel attempting to atone. The film is a noble testimony to Hosseini’s book and honors the struggles of the Afghani people.
The Last Unicorn
Peter S. Beagle
This fantasy novel is the haunting tale of Unicorn who believes she is the last of her kind in the world. With information about an evil Red Bull that has herded her fellow unicorns away, Unicorn begins a quest to learn the truth of their extinction. Beagle also wrote the screenplay for his animated film with no small actors. Mia Farrow provides the voice of Unicorn with Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, and Angela Landsbury in the other pivotal roles. Even New York Times critic Janet Maslin called it “unusually good.” Children of the 80s, this is one of our shining cult classics.
If a movie is based on literature, I’m in. No matter the genre. As an author, I understand that behind every book-to-film was a person scribbling away in sweaty solitude. So when I hear a film is based on a story first conceived in paper and ink, it has me from hello. That said, we live in a technology-frenzied world. My first devotion is to reading and writing, which doesn’t always leave me with the latitude to catch a prime time movie or take a trip to the theater. Enter Netflix. Streaming literary films opens the door to limitless possibilities: late-night viewings in bed; book club party matinees; the ability to stop and return if I feel compelled to grab the novel and plot check, and so much more. But where’s the app that tells us where to find such bookish delights? While we wait on the invention techies, here’s a look at my (lit) list on Netflix.
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