Reel Good Reads: From Print to Film

Mrs. Dalloway

By Virginia Woolf

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"Mrs. Dalloway chronicles a June day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway–-a day that is taken up with running minor errands in preparation for a party and that is punctuated, toward the end, by the suicide of a young man she has never met. In giving an apparently ordinary day such immense resonance and significance–-infusing it with the elemental conflict between death and life–-Virginia Woolf triumphantly discovers her distinctive style as a novelist. Originally published in 1925, Mrs. Dalloway is Woolf’s first complete rendering of what she described as the 'luminous envelope' of consciousness: a dazzling display of the mind’s inside as it plays over the brilliant surface and darker depths of reality."

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Papillon

By Henri Charriere

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This is the true story of Henri Charriere (better known as "Papillon" or "the butterfly"), a prisoner so determined to escape the notorious Devil's Island, he attempted it multiple times until he reached old age.

 

On Film:
Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon and Anthony Zerbe star in the 1973 film.

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Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

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In early nineteenth-century England, a spirited young woman copes with the suit of a snobbish gentleman as well as the romantic entanglements of her four sisters.

On Film:
The 1995 BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth, is a must see for Austen fans and hopeless romantics. This adaptation is five hours long, but every minute is great. (Also available on VHS.) For black & white film buffs, check out the 1940 film version with Laurence Olivier and Maureen O'Sullivan. The screenplay for this film was written by Brave New World author Aldous Huxley. Finally, Bridget Jones's Diary puts a modern spin on Austen's classic.

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Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier

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A young woman weds a wealthy widower and goes to live in his palatial Cornish estate. Her good fortune turns nightmarish, however, when she finds herself haunted by the spector of Rebecca, her husband's first wife.

On Film:
Rebecca is a true classic, as is Alfred Hitchcock's spine-tingling 1940 movie adaptation, featuring a darkly handsome Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter and a fresh-faced Joan Fontaine as the young Mrs. de Winter. This classic movie is a must see! For an updated look at Rebecca check out this 1997 release starring Charles Dance, Emilia Fox, Diana Rigg, Faye Dunaway, Geraldine James. This movie adaptation is recommended for true Rebecca fanatics only-- it's almost three hours long!

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Rocket Boys: A Memoir

By Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

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Looking back after a distinguished NASA career, Hickam shares the story of his youth in a coal mining town.

 

On Film:
Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, and Laura Dern star in October Sky, the movie adaptation of Rocket Boys.

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Seabiscuit: An American Legend

By Laura Hillenbrand

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A loser horse and a down-on-his-luck jockey join forces to take on the best equine athletes of Depression-era America. Hillenbrand's book has been made into a Hollywood film, starring Toby Maguire. The book is also available on audio.

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She: A History of Adventure

By H. Rider Haggard

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"A runaway bestseller on its publication in 1887, H. Rider Haggard’s She is a Victorian thrill ride of a novel, featuring a lost African kingdom ruled by a mysterious, implacable queen; ferocious wildlife and yawning abysses; and an eerie love story that spans two thousand years. She has bewitched readers from Freud and Jung to C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien... ."
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The Accidental Tourist

By Anne Tyler

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The narrow, orderly life of a travel guidebooks author is hilariously disrupted by his estranged wife and an eccentric dog trainer

On Film:
The film adaptation of Tyler's novel was originally released in 1988 and stars William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Geena Davis.

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The African Queen

By C. S. Forester

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First published in 1935, The African Queen is the story of Charlie Allnut & Rose Sayer, a disheveled trader & an English spinster missionary, who are thrown together when World War I reaches the heart of the African jungle. Fighting time, heat, malaria, & bullets, they escape on a rickety steamboat, where they fall in love & hatch an outrageous military plan of their own. The story was immortalized in the 1951 film starring Katharine Hepburn & Humphrey Bogart.

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The Color Purple

By Alice Walker

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Winner of the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, this unforgettable portrait of a young black girl, her friends, family, and lovers is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

On Film:
Be sure to check out the powerful 1985 movie version, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, and Whoopie Goldberg.

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