With director Park Chan-wook wooing audiences around the world with his sumptuous, imaginative reworking of Sarah Waters’s novel Fingersmith, in his erotic thriller The Handmaiden, you’d be forgiven for thinking books by women get snapped up to be made into film all the time. Yet frustratingly, female writers are still routinely dismissed as being ‘too domestic’, when in truth the clarity of their storytelling and their nuanced examination of human relationships scream ‘ready-made for cinema’. There are entire bookstores of novels by women that haven’t (as yet!) been adapted. So here at Raindance we aim to rectify that situation, with our pick of the hidden gems – the Top 5 Hottest Novels By Women we believe deserve a book-to-film deal:
5 Hottest Novels by Women Ripe for Making into Film
THE GUSTAV SONATA by Rose Tremain (Vintage)
A familiar World War 2/Holocaust backdrop but in an unusual, visually enticing Swiss setting, Tremain spins the tale of the unlikely friendship lasting into middle age between a well-heeled Swiss boy and an anxious Jewish piano prodigy. The film industry could use a fresh angle on the impact of war on relationships, and this novel, structured in three movements (echoing the sonata of the title) might just provide it, especially if accompanied by a soaring score to reflect the agony of lives half lived.
INVISIBLE THREADS by Lucy Beresford (Quartet)
Part missing person thriller, part exposé of India’s sex trade, Beresford’s shortlisted novel is also a love story. Searching Delhi for answers about her husband’s mysterious death, English doctor Sara falls for her low-caste driver Hemant but gets sucked into a world where prostitutes as young as seven writhe in pink polyester saris. As might be expected from the host of a radio sex show, Beresford’s novel has pungent things to say about sexual desire. It’s City of Joy meets Taken, with a plucky female heroine (we’re thinking Felicity Jones) – the perfect formula for film adaptation.
THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by Ursula K. Le Guin (Orbit)
With Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale newly adapted for British television, now is a good time to revisit other feminist works of alternative universes. Le Guin’s novel from the 1980s has stood the test of time in its explorations about gender and politics. It’s set on a planet called Winter where the weather is semi-arctic, and all people are all sexes rolled into one. Plus, if you believe the world needs a more feminist Lord of the Rings, Le Guin’s imaginative world gives masses of scope for a big-budget film within the fantasy genre.
STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury)
Patchett’s shortlisted novel lays bare the powerful rivalries within academia, as scientist Marina journeys deep into the Amazon rain forest to search for her colleague (and secret lover) Dr. Swenson who might have found a miracle cure based on tree bark. Think The Emerald Forest meets Medicine Man, but with two terrific female leads, as Marina clashes with a former medical mentor. It’s a story we reckon contains plenty of scope for a meaty on-screen battle of ideas as well as cultures.
BLACK DIRT by Nell Leyshon (Picador)
Frank has come home to die, a morphine drip controlling his pain. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, Holy Grail myths and enchanting stories from his childhood compete with uglier memories and the immediate need to make arrangements for his disturbed son. We envisage a film adaptation which celebrates the rural idyll as much as it charts the end of a life, to make a thoughtful, atmospheric film along the lines of The Sea Inside by Alejandro Amenábar – reunited perhaps with Javier Bardem to play Frank.