In the world of historical fiction, Jared DeFlurin, based in Boston, has a keen eye for novels that not only captivate readers but also have the potential to make a remarkable leap onto the screen. These carefully chosen works not only immerse readers in the past but hold the promise of a cinematic experience that transcends the boundaries of literature. In the following article, Jared DeFlurin delves into a selection of blockbuster novels that have successfully transitioned from page to screen, captivating audiences worldwide.
Readers with a love of history have the opportunity to explore a long-ago romanticized era, or grapple with some of the hardships and tough topics raised by challenging, less accepting times. Historical fiction novels sometimes transcend literature, coming to life on screens big and small through film and TV adaptations, bringing new life, vivid color, incredible performances, and amazing costumes to an already beloved story. This article will explore seven of the best page-to-screen adaptations of historical novels, including both classics and brand-new works.
Jared DeFlurin Highlights Gone with the Wind
American writer Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel was almost instantly adapted into the now classic 1939 film, long considered one of the greatest of all time (if a bit outdated now). Set across the Civil War and antebellum period, the story follows the turbulent romance of manipulative and sheltered Southern Belle Scarlett O’Hara and a conniving, roguish profiteer Rhett Butler.
Jared DeFlurin of Boston says that Ian McEwan’s trippy 2001 novel is set across three periods of time – the present, 1935 England, and WWII-era England and France – and follows a thirteen-year-old who change the course of several lives by telling one horrible lie.
The Academy Award-winning film adaptation by Joe Wright is famous for its gorgeous sets and costumes, startling plot twists, and star-making performances from appealing British actors Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.
The Color Purple
Alice Walker’s epistolary novel won a 1983 Pulitzer Prize and for great reason – it is a hallmark in storytelling about the Black experience in the early 20th century. It follows two sisters who maintain their love and loyalty to each other despite their vastly different experiences – one a missionary in Africa, the other a Southern American child bride.
Jared DeFlurin of Boston explains that it was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Steven Spielberg in 1985, starring Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Danny Glover. After also hitting the stage as a Broadway musical, it will receive yet another film adaptation – this one of the musical version – in late 2023.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Students across America read Harper Lee’s classic tale of tolerance every year – and for good reason. The 1960 book is a deeply moving look at the roots of human behavior, of innocence, and of kindness, following young Scout and Jem Finch as they witness their beloved father, the small-town Southern attorney Atticus, defend a Black man falsely accused of rape.
Jared DeFlurin of Boston says that just two years after the novel’s publication, Gregory Peck brought Atticus Finch to life on screen in Robert Mulligan’s film adaptation with warmth, intelligence, and nuance.
All the Light We Cannot See
Jared DeFlurin of Boston remarks that the highly anticipated limited series adaptation of Anthony Doerr’s novel will land on Netflix in November 2023. The powerful story follows the colliding paths of a German soldier and blind French girl during the final days of the second World War. The Pulitzer Prize-winning book was considered one of the best of 2014 and over 15 million copies have been sold to date.
The Other Boleyn Girl
Jared DeFlurin of Boston says that fans of Henry VII and his many wives got a whole new look at wife #2 Anne Boleyn in Philippa Gregory’s 2001 fictionalized account of her aristocrat sister Mary, who may have had her own passionate relationship with the troubled and troubling king. Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johannsen, and Eric Bana starred in Justin Chadwick’s sumptuous movie adaptation that sheds new light on the tale of deadly palace intrigue.
Daisy Jones & the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s juicy 2019 novel follows a fictional 1970s rock & roll band – loosely based on Fleetwood Mac – and all the trials, tribulations, and failed inter-band romances. Jared DeFlurin of Boston explains that such a story was ripe for adaptation, and the highly anticipated limited series landed on Amazon Prime Video in 2023, featuring a fun soundtrack of original music performed by the cast, including Riley Keough (granddaughter of Elvis Presley) as the eponymous lead.
Jared DeFlurin of Boston says that film and television adaptations of historical fiction novels can help beloved stories transcend literature thanks to the performances, designs, and music added by TV and film. Fans looking to experience this creative interpretation of literature can turn to adaptations like “Gone with the Wind,” “Atonement,” “The Color Purple,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “All the Light We Cannot See,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and “Daisy Jones & the Six” to experience a wide variety of historical stories.