There have been so many good small and large screen adaptations of brilliant books recently, it's becoming hard to keep up. With giant corporations throwing money at every series they can get their hands on, the question has to be asked: are they managing to match the beauty, style and all over general fabulous-ness of the original book? So with a purely subjective bent I'm going to compare a number of series that I've both read and watched.
Call the Midwife
Jennifer Worth's autobiographical series of being a mid-wife in 1950s East End London is at times harrowing, hilarious, thoughtful and inspiring. The series of short stories blend together to create a whole picture of a world that no longer exists (thanks to modern medicine). I read the book after watching the TV Series and was completely blown away by the written descriptions of each character, as it matched the actors they got for each role perfectly. The first season stays true to Worth's stories while the later ones wander off into uncharted territory. But those first couple of seasons are pure gold and beautifully interpret Worth's life and times. I only wish she had been alive to see how much her books and the show is loved the world round.
Game of Thrones
A blog post such as this that doesn't discuss the epic Game of Thrones (or Song of Ice and Fire for those deep into the books) is very remiss. This series changed the way that the world views not only epic fantasy novels but also redefining the way TV series are made. The relationship between author and directors has been a terrific example of how to do an adaptation right. Of course, with doorstops such as these books you're never going to be able to capture every little tiny detail but they certainly do their best. Now with the original source material unfinished and the TV show running past, it will be an interesting cultural study to see what happens when the books catch up. Apparently they’re going to be very different…
Don’t lynch me, but I’m going to be honest and say I don’t like the Harry Potter movies. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the books and re-read them whenever I can. But the movies fall far short of the magic of the books. The lack of consistent Dumbledore (yes I know the actor passed away - but come on, you knew there were going to be 8 movies!), consistent directors or in fact anyone being the same behind the scenes from one movie to the next shows in it’s disjointed storytelling and marked departure from the source material at certain key moments. (If you’re a Potterhead, then you know which ones I’m talking about!)
The White Queen
This is Philippa Gregory in her element, not only delving into the world of English medieval royalty but showing the drama through the eyes of the women. Beautifully presented in this miniseries, you get all the political manoeuvring with the love stories of Gergory’s books. Presented with the same deft touch, you have to remember that she does take liberties sometimes with history but all the core important parts are what actually happened.
This was another series that I watched the TV series before reading the books, but then quickly ripped my way through the first four and a half books before having to put it down and go read something else. These doorstops of books could only have ever been done as a TV show and I have to say, I have loved the show. They’ve tweaked things here and there from the original books and I can only say, I think it’s for the better. Bringing some things out into the open that weren’t talked about when Gabaldon originally wrote the books has really deepened what could have been a complete fluff romance into the world of strong historical drama.