Date with a Book? How About a Movie for Dessert?

Petworth Library

Date with a Book? How About a Movie for Dessert?

Where has summer gone – no, really? Soon enough the weather will get nippy again and school buses will be rattling down the street. If you have been too busy this summer to read, here are some great book and movie combinations to get you caught up. These selections are fantastic for books clubs or for those of us who just plan to skip ahead and watch the movie!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was a best seller well into the 1960s  - but Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 movie release starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine arguably popularized the book even more. The story of a naïve young woman who marries a rich widower only to find that the death of his first wife overshadows their new life, Rebecca is a great nod to historic works like Jane Eyre.  Readers who enjoy questionable characters and suspense should also try The Talented Mr. Ripley or Sophie’s Choice. Both films feature stellar performances by acclaimed actors but more importantly, these texts’ provocative content will likely remain with the reader far after the last page has been turned.

Lovers of modern thrillers however should look no further than The Silence of the Lambs or A Clockwork Orange. Since Anthony Hopkins uttered Dr. Hannibal Lector’s famous line "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti", this character has sparked the public’s imagination. Atmospheric, dark and intense, The Silence of the Lambs aptly combines the horrific with compelling characterization. Similarly, Malcolm McDowell’s performance in A Clockwork Orange has been hailed by critics although the movie is often noted for its graphic depiction of violence. Given its dystopian theme, lovers of the recent series "The Handmaid’s Tale" may appreciate this selection, but given today’s political climate, A Clockwork Orange is sure to find a receptive audience with much to discuss.

Classic literature has always inspired film – it’s a natural correlation. If you have not caught some of these great adaptions (or read the book!) then now is the time. John Steinbeck’s greatest literary achievement is widely recognized as The Grapes of Wrath, a Depression era family study, but one would be remiss to overlook some of his shorter works such as Of Mice and Men. Underscoring topics such as racism and social economics, like many of Steinbeck’s works, Of Mice and Men highlights cultural tension. Rated by Time magazine as one of the Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written in the midst of the Civil Rights movement as well as controversial era in psychiatry (the de-institutional movement).  A great work to discuss its themes of authorial control, individuality and rebellion continue to resonate.

If readers are interested in more searing portrayals of character dynamics, two good choices are Ordinary People and The Color Purple.  A searing glimpse into the emotional aftermath of death, Ordinary People follows the relationships of a suburban family that is slowly falling apart. A frequently challenged book, The Color Purple depicts the life of Celie, an oppressed black woman, in the 1930s. Transformative, the movie alone is well worth watching for its amazing performances and its depiction of strong women.

These novels represent but a few of the many original, exciting and moving works that have been transformed into excellent films. Enjoy the fall by curling up with one of them!