Period dramas for 2015..?

Hello everyone! It’s been a terribly long time since I last posted on here – my new year’s resolution however is to pick my blog back up again – there are so many books and adaptations I have to write about!

So to kick off… What have we to look forward to in the world of period dramas for 2015? The answer in short is… lots.

Hands up who can’t wait to see Damien Lewis star as Henry VIII in the adaptation of Wolf Hall? The six-part series will air on BBC2 later in January focusing on Henry’s advisor Thomas Cromwell (played by Mark Rylance) and his rise to prominence in the Tudor court. I’ve read the first novel in the series by Hilary Mantel and can’t wait to see how it translates to screen. You can watch the (very exciting) new trailer here.

Also on the BBC, we’ve got a series of four 20th-century classic adaptations to look forward to – including Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie, LP Hartley’s The Go-Between (which I confess I’ve never read) and a version of JB Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls. The one I’m most looking forward to is Lady Chatterley – starring Holliday Grainger (of Great Expectations and Borgias fame), Richard Madden (from Game of Thrones) and James Norton (Death Comes to Pemberley.) It’s a 90 minute film so I’m interested to see how it will all be condensed down…

We’ve also got the delights of a remake of Poldark to look forward to. I’m personally a little young to remember this the first time around but from what I’ve heard it was the must-see bodice-ripping TV viewing of the 70’s. Aiden Turner (the gorgeous Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Desperate Romantics), will be starring as Ross Poldark, a British officer who returns from the American War of Independence in the 18th century to discover his childhood enemy has snatched away his fiancee. Cue epic drama and romance.

And finally Mr Selfridge is back and work is to be started on a new series of Downton. Could 2015 be the year for period drama TV viewing? (I really hope so…)

So what are you looking forward to in 2015? Let me know…


Period Dramas on the Hollywood Horizon….

So… I haven’t posted in a while (but my time has been usefully spent reading tons of books, adding ever more books to my collection, watching (and in many cases re-watching!) hoards of period dramas and importantly… keeping up to date with all the exciting new ones which are due to be released this year!

For lovers of period dramas – what do we have in store?! Well! A great deal…

Firstly, fans of The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald have a new adaptation to look forward to. Released Christmas 2012, this Hollywood version stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Carraway and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. I’m expecting a gorgeous adaptation of this classic American novel (see the trailer here ). Although being a HUGE Toby Stephens fan I fear my bias may mean that I think ultimately he will be play the better Gatsby… (Unfair? Maybe. Infact. Yes, definitely.)

In September, we have the Tolstoy masterpiece, Anna Karenina released, starring Keira Knightley in the title role. Supporting cast of Jude Law as her older husband, Aaron Johnson as dashing lover and Domnhall Gleeson as Levin (Bill Weasley in Harry Potter!) and many many more fantastic actors and actresses. I have to say this is one of my favourite novels. Ever. And I fear for the portrayal of these characters on screen (I have seen the 2000 Helen Mcrory version and the 1997 Sophie Marceau version and was sadly less than convinced…) – hopefully the sumptuous production and amazing cast will make it an enjoyable experience. I remain sceptical of the ability to cut down this wonderful novel into a tight Hollywood movie -style adaptation… (we shall see!) – if anyone has any good Tolstoy recommendations please do share!

For Henry James fans, we have a modern day adaptation (ok, so not technically a period drama, but I can’t miss off a James film – there are so few about!) of What Maisie Knew. This film is based on the 1897 novel by Henry James which focuses on Maisie, the young daughter of a pair of irresponsible and warring parents. The story surely translates so well into a contemporary setting with it’s depiction of a dysfunctional family and quite frankly I am so excited to see Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard in this movie. More Henry James adaptations is all I can say (regardless of the era they are set in!!) See the trailer here:

Another(!) Great Expectations will also be released in December, starring Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter (Voldemort and Bellatrix for HP fans!!) and Holiday Grainger and Jeremy Irvine as Estella and Pip. And as much as I love, love, love, this novel – I can’t help but wondering when we will get some other Dickens adaptations (Hard Times/Tales of Two Cities/Dombey & Son PLEASE?! Anyone else with me on this one?)

And finally… what I am most excited about (but which will not be coming until next year…) a biographical re-telling of Dickens’ secret love affair with actress Nelly Ternan starring Ralph Fiennes as Dickens and Felicity Jones as Nelly.

The screenplay is based on the biography ‘The Invisible Woman’ by Claire Tomalin (on my to-read pile!) and charts the intriguing love life of one of my favourite authors. Fiennes will no doubt be an amazing Dickens.. and Tom Hollander is also set to play Wilkie Collins – another of my all-time favourite authors (Dickens’ best friend and popular 19th Century novelist specialising in ‘sensation’ novels). – I have high expectations for this…!!

There are LOTS lots more (including the upcoming television dramas we have to look forward to – what would Sunday night be without some period drama excitement to keep us entertained?!) but I will curtail my enthusiasm for now and post again soon. If anyone has any exciting tips for me to look out for then please let me know!!


2012… A year for the classics..

So… 2012 commences and as always I start the year full of the very best intentions (work-wise, health-wise, attitude-wise.. and this year  literary-wise!) I have big plans for 2012 as a year for reading (or re-reading!) all my favourite classic authors (and discovering some new ones I haven’t yet tried..)  I also want to start reading some more contemporary authors (so if anyone has any good tips they will be much appreciated!)

I’m also signing up to some reading challenges for 2012 to focus my reading energies and give me some goals to work to!

Firstly, I will be participating in Darlene’s Book Nook Mammoth Book Challenge – I’m aiming for Level 4: Read 8 or more mammoth-sized books.

2012 Mammoth Book Challenge

I’m thinking a lot of the classics I intend to read will fall into this category so (hopefully!) I should make the 8 if not more: e.g. Bleak House – Charles Dickens, Middlemarch – George Eliot ( I’ve read this before & I LOVE it so it can’t possibly not be on my list!), War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy, The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas, – these are weighty tomes but have to be on my list.

Also, I will be doing the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge (hosted here  I’m aiming for gold medal status (21+ books). There are some amazing classics on the list so it should fit nicely with my resolution to read more next year!

I do intend to post as many reviews of my reads as possible, but my reading list as ever will be posted on here so I can keep track of my progress!!!

As as personal challenge, and in recognition of the Dickens Centenary this year – I’m going to attempt the feat of reading Dickens entire works (‘just’ his novels not short story collections, criticisms, travel writing.) (Optimistic perhaps but I will try my best to give it a go!)

Interested to hear what others sign up for…!

New Wuthering Heights Adaptation

I’ve just been reading this article on the casting choice of Heathcliff for Andrea Arnold’s new adaptation of Wuthering Heights and I was really interested about people’s thoughts regarding James Howson as Bronte’s (anti?) hero.

Casting a mixed race actor in the role has never been done before, and this article seems to imply that this was Bronte’s original intention for the character of Heathcliff. Highlighting Bronte’s description of him as “dark-skinned gypsy” and a “lascar”, it could indeed be argued that the previous adaptations with Heathcliff played by actors like Ralph Fiennes, Tom Hardy and Laurence Olivier fail to fully portray what Bronte intended… However.. I’m not sure that I agree with this. Essentially what is important is the acting and the portrayal of the role (and as I’m a stickler, how close the adaptation sticks to the original plot!!) I think the  casting is an interesting choice and it highlights a racial dimension to the story which has perhaps been underplayed in other versions (although I don’t think this is necessarily all that overt in the actual text).

Interested to hear what other’s think. Definitely looking forward to watching this verson. Kaya Scodelario is cast as Cathy and I think she will be great! Trailer here for those who are interested : Still not sure what my favourite version has been so far (and there have been so many!! over the last few years) – but there is always some room for more Bronte. (Although I would love love love an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Villette or Shirley instead of remaking the same novels.)

A re-read will definitely be in order before watching this! Also going to see We Are Three Sisters next month – a Chekhov inspired play about the life of the Bronte Sisters.. Can’t wait!!

New Great Expectations Adaptation.. and Dickensian ramblings..

So… I love Dickens. Yes, sometimes his novels are looong, winding chunky beasts with tons of characters and sub-plots, but he surely deserves recognition as one of the greatest writers in the English language. His novels are timeless classics and his depictions of various characters have become English institutions- what would Christmas be without Scrooge?

So, I am super excited about the new adaptation set to be shown on the BBC around Christmas of Great Expectations.. (Yes, I know this has been done lots of times- but I think we have room for some more Pip, Estella, Havisham and Magwitch in our lives…!) The casting looks perfect- Gillian Anderson (who did an amazing job as Lady Deadlock in the BBC version of Bleak House) is Miss Havisham, Ray Winstone is Magwitch (yes!), and David Suchet is Jaggers (yes, yes, yes!!) All lovers of Great Expectations will surely be thrilled about this new version (even if there are other neglected classics which the BBC should seriously think about adapting!)

The adaptation is part of the year-long celebrations for the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth in 2012. There are some amazing plans for 2012 across the country (and beyond!) with events, exhibitions, performances and festivals – looking at it all here I hardly know where to start with what I would like to attend! I will have to start planning..!! Be interesting to hear what other people are up to!

After completing my read of all the Sherlock Holmes books (one still left to go which I am holding back to save for my holiday!) I think I will turn to a reading (or re-reading) of all my Dickens favourites and the ones I haven’t yet got around to. I still have Bleak House, Little Dorrit, David Copperfield and Our Mutual Friend on my to-read pile so having a Dickens reading project would be a great motivator to get stuck into some of these!! One of my favourite novels is A Tale of Two Cities so that will definitely have to be on the list, along with Great Expectations.. What are other peoples favourites?

Also to highlight this interesting article about an online journal project looking for volunteers to edit content for ‘Dickens Journals Online’ – looks like a hugely beneficial project to spare some time for…!


A Sherlock Holmes Summer…

So.. one of my reading challenges for 2011 was to read the complete Sherlock Holmes novels by Arthur Conan Doyle.  I had seen the 2009 film with Robert Downey Jr. and I heard that a new film was being made, so I really wanted to read the novels to see how well the films adapt the texts.. I also thought it was an unforgivable gap in my knowledge of Victorian literature not to have read ANY of the Holmes stories(!)

I am currently making my way through these beauties.. (and I have to say I am loving!! every minute of the journey..)

1. A Study in Scarlet                                         5. The Hound of the Baskervilles

2. The Sign of Four                                            6. The Return of Sherlock Holmes

3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes    7. The Valley of Fear

4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes         8. His Last Bow and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

I (think!) that is the entire works and I’m currently only on the third book, but I am hugely enjoying them so far. I was worried that perhaps the stories would get a little repetitive after a while, especially reading them in close succession.. but on the contrary I find that each new story is unique and clever.. and Holmes gets even more intriguing. The stories are snappy and don’t drag, and each one leaves me rushing ahead to read the next!

I can’t say how well Downey Jr captures Holmes yet, as it has been a while since I have seen the film.. my feel is it wasn’t that accurate.. A re-watch may be in order.. but dare I say it.. I don’t want to spoil the characters I am enjoying so much in the novels by watching any terrible adaptations. Holmes is so clever… and elusive… and arrogant… and charming…and so many other random things that much make the character hugely difficult to bring across in an adaptation. The recent modernisation with Benedict Cumberbatch has also been reccomended to me- what do others think? Which adaptations of these stories capture Holmes the best? Which portray the relationship between Holmes and Watson? Jeremy Brett seems to be the favourite from what I have heard.. but then Rupert Everett seems such a good choice too? I really think I may need to get some of these versions once I am done with the novels!

Anyway.. so I am only on book 3 of 8.. lots more to get through.. I think I am becoming a fan though! 🙂

Countdown until 9th September….

The new adaptation of Jane Eyre is going to be released on the 9th September.. and I can’t wait!! An exclusive trailer was highlighted in the Guardian today and it has got me super excited again!!

Fassbender will be a great Rochester, I have no doubt (although seeing him as Magneto in X Men next week should be an interesting contrast!) I have high hopes for this version of Charlotte Bronte’s *amazing* novel. Mia Wasikawska looks to have the right measure of feisty spirit, plainness and vulnerability that a perfect Jane Eyre should have. A re-read before September is definitely in order though so I can really appreciate whether the film captures the subtleties of the text.

On the flip side though (in spite of my enthusiasm for the film!), I do wonder why it is that none of the Charlotte Bronte’s novel have merited any screen time? An adaptation of Villette or Shirley (particularly a lavish BBC version with weekly installments to get us through the winter!) would be so welcome! What is it about these other texts, (other than that they are lesser known to the wider public), that merit this neglect. The BBC adaptation of Anne Bronte’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall is proof that lesser known novels can be brought successfully to the small screen. In short then- more Bronte please!! 😀

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