Pages to Screen

As one of the resident 'movie buffs' in the library, here is a selection of books that have been made into recent release movies or are coming out soon..
Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkein
This book is one of the best known fantasy books about a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo is chosen to go on a long journey with a group of dwarfs and a wizard. The purpose of the journey is to take back what is rightfully theirs and to slay the dragon that attacked their kingdom many years ago. We see Bilbo's character develop from a lonely hobbit who stays close to home to a more adventurous, brave character.  This book appeals to all ages -  an adventure packed with orcs, trolls, goblins and an array of mystical creatures. It is a small book with a large adventure inside. Do the orcs ever win?

Water Diviner Andrew Anastasios
When the Great War ends, Joshua Connor, a grieving father and sometimes water diviner decides to go to Gallipoli to recover the bodies of his 3 sons and bury them on consecrated ground. For those who are going to see the movie it is best not to reveal anymore of the plot here. This is not a war novel or even an anti-war novel but focuses on the battles going on in both Turkish and Australian hearts and minds as they try to recover their dead and rebuild their lives after the First World War.  This story is based on diaries and official records. This is a novel very sympathetic to the dreadful losses suffered by the Turks at Gallipoli. The book and the film are recommended.

 Suite Francaise Irene Nemiirovsky
This book is not easy to review as it was written with a lengthy delay between parts, is unfinished and the author did not know how the war would end. The handwritten manuscript was found many years after the author was killed in Auschwitz in 1942 and  was transcribed by her daughter. The first surviving part of the novel  - Storm in June details the movements of the French middle and upper middle classes trying the escape the Germans while retaining their privileges and possessions. The characters include a variety of people who display classism, cowardice, hypocrisy, arrogance, greed and the general inertness of  many of the French of that time. In the second part -  Dolce, many of these characters disappear. Apparently the rest of their stories were to have been told in the third unwritten part - Captivity. Dolce focuses on one character and her mother-in-law and what happens when they are forced to billet a German soldier. In this part of the book the Germans and the French interact together in a way that presents the Germans as more human than they are usually portrayed during the war. This book is different in that it is not about the persecution of the Jews but gives a voice to how civilian populations reacted to occupation. Read the appendices to get a better insight into the author's intent.

The Drop Dennis Lehane
This book sparked my interest as it is written by the author of one of some very well regarded thrillers such as Mystic River and Shutter Island. The movie, The Drop is also the last movie to feature the late James Gandolfini.  Set in Brooklyn it is the story of a bar called Cousin Marv's. Cousin Marv's is technically owned by Marv but is run by Chechen mobsters who use the bar as a money drop. Marv's cousin Bob, a sad character, works as a bartender at Marv's. The story begins with Bob finding a beaten puppy in a bin. He also meets Nadia, a woman with problems. Cousin Marv's is robbed and the Chechens visit and insist that Bob and Marv get their money back. Add in  a determined detective, the dog's original owner and an unstable ex-con with an agenda and you get  a story of loneliness, money, illegal gambling, intimidation, violence and love. This book is an expansion of a short story written by Dennis Lehane in 2009. While there may be a feeling that the reader could have spent more time with the characters the ending is still satisfactory.

Child 44 Tom Rob Smith
This grim book is not for everyone. It begins as a horror book but ends up a thriller.  The author creates a nightmarish, claustrophobic world of mistrust and fear. The story is about a murderer travelling around Russia killing children. Instead of trying to catch the killer, the State wants to make it go away as unsolved crimes don't look good. One policeman, Leo decides to make a stand. For me the suspense of Child 44 doesn't come from the many action scenes but rather from the anticipation of what the State can do to innocent people. What will happen to Leo, his wife, children, parents and anyone who helps him? The ending for me was the weakest part.  What do you think?

Wild Cheryl Strayed
You could look at this story in two ways - the story of a self-absorbed, ill prepared young woman who leaves her husband and then proceeds to indulge in other reckless behaviour before setting off to find herself by walking the Pacific Crest Trail -  alone. Along the way she gets special treatment by other seasoned hikers, loses weight and gets sun bleached hair.  Or you could see it as a learning experience for the author who used a spontaneous journey along the trail to help her to face her demons and to come to terms with her mother's death. Be prepared for swearing and details of the author's sex life but you could also read between the lines and see the author learn to accept and let go.

The Light Between the Oceans M.L Steadman
Tom Sherbourne returns from WW1 a shattered man, not understanding how he survived when some of his mates didn't. He becomes a lighthouse keeper and takes up residence on the small island of Janus Rock, a very remote location off Western Australia.  His only human contact is with the 2 men from Partageuse who bring supplies and mail every 3 months. While training in Partageuse Tom meets Isabel Graysmark and over a few months, with letters going back and forth, a relationship develops.  Tom and Isabel eventually marry and set up home on Janus Rock. Their happiness is marred by miscarriages and depression until one day a boat with a dead man and a baby blows ashore. As the years go by their decision on that day affects many lives with very sad results.  This is M L Steadman's first book and a        recommended read.

Secret Scripture Sebastian Barry
Secret Scripture is two versions of the life of Roseanne McNaulty, a 100 year old woman who lived most of her adult life in a mental hospital. The first version of the story is told through Roseanne's unreliable recollections, recorded in her secret journal while the second story is told by her psychiatrist Dr Grene as he investigates Roseanne's records and evaluates her for release into the community. Both accounts of Roseanne's life gradually reveal the mystery of her long term confinement in the mental hospital. Which account will you believe?

Still Alice Lisa Genova
Most people see Alzheimer's as a disease of old age.  After you read Still Alice you will never look at Alzheimer's in the same way again. The story is about 50 year Alice, a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. As the narration is told through Alice as her condition progresses, some of the plot appears to get lost but we gain a better insight into the progression of the disease because of this. The writing style is not perfect but for anyone with a relative with any form of dementia or Alzheimer's it is a book that does a great job of highlighting this debilitating disease, the effects on families and the sufferer and societal attitudes. The author self published this book. Unlike many self published books it has attracted many positive reviews. As someone with a relative who had dementia,  I recommend this book to at least gain a small insight into their world.

And the 10th suggestion?  Over to you!