Obsessed with Jane Austen like me? Do you enjoy watching ladies of leisure strolling the gardens and trying to catch the eye of the eligible beau? There’s something so magical about these stories, and if you’re a Cactus Pop regular then you’d know that I am fairly obsessed with my period drama. (See Darcy Vs Thornton Showdown and Definitive Jane Austen Collection).
But there’s plenty of other great adaptations out there just waiting for you to watch them. You may have heard of these authors, but have you seen some of their lesser known adaptations?
Our mutual friend (charles dickens)
Forget Great Expectations and Bleak House, (well maybe don’t forget them) but check out this little gem. Our Mutual Friend tells the story of an inheritance and the follow-on effects. John Harmon is on his way home to London to collect his fortune but his body is pulled out of the Thames. This sets into motion a huge chain of events that effects people from all walks of life.
Famous Faces: Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility ’08), The Trunchbull (Matilda), Maester Aemon (Game of Thrones), Peter Pettigrew and Filch (Harry Potter), Cynthia/Fancy Day (Wives and Daughters/Under the Greenwood Tree)
the way we live now (anthony trollope)
If you like your adaptations with a little more substance then this one might be for you. Augustus Melmotte arrives in London, a world on the brink of change. He rises fast and London is buzzing, his name is on everyone’s lips. But a great rise could also come with a spectacular downfall. Poirot, I mean David Suchet plays Augustus fabulously.
Famous Faces: Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice ’05), Poirot, Moaning Myrtle and Filch (Harry Potter), Tommy Shelby (Peaky Blinders), Eowyn (Lord of the Rings), Carson (Downton Abbey)
daniel deronda (george eliot)
George Eliot’s literary masterpiece would probably be Middlemarch, but this adaptation of one of her other novels is great. Daniel Deronda is the ward of a wealthy gentleman and is struggling to find his purpose in life. When he saves a young Jewish woman from drowning one day, he becomes involved in the search for her family.
Famous Faces: Will Graham (Hannibal), Robert Crawley (Downton Abbey), Mr Collins (Pride and Prejudice ’05), Emma and Mrs Weston (Emma ’09), Cora (Once Upon a Time)
under the greenwood tree (thomas hardy)
Everyone talks about Tess, but this one from Thomas Hardy is one of his less tragic ones. A young woman arrives in a small town and ends up playing the piano at the church and kicking out the local choir. There’s a few disgruntled choir members, and one in particular fancies Fancy (yes that’s her name). There’s a trio of suitors for Fancy too but it’s pretty obvious who the victor should be!
Famous Faces: It’s small cast but you’ll see the woman of the moment Cynthia/Lizzie Hexam (Wives and Daughters/Our Mutual Friend)
the tenant of wildfell hall (anne bronte)
Everyone has head of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but have you heard of the Tenant of Wildfell Hall? There’s your typical tortured soul (no Bronte book would be complete without it) and even a bit of mystery too. A young woman one day appears at Wildfell Hall with her young son and rumours fly as to where she has come from. Turns out she is hiding a secret and has run from something in her past.
Famous Faces: Mrs Reed/Topaz (Jane Eyre ‘06/I Capture the Castle), Mr Rochester (Jane Eyre ’06), Detective Lestrade (Sherlock), The Trunchbull (Matilda)
wives and daughters (elizabeth gaskell)
It might not be one of Mrs Gaskell’s least well known novels but there is a lot of buzz about North and South and Cranford. This one is beautiful though and one of my favourites of all time so I had to include it. Molly Gibson is the daughter of the local doctor. Without a mother though, her father thinks she needs a woman’s guidance. So he remarries and Molly gets a new mother and a sister. But the new additions to the family seem to come from a different world and Molly is more comfortable to spend her time at Hamley Hall, where she meets the two Hamley brothers.
Famous Faces: Tess (Tess of the D’Urbervilles ’98), Lady Ludlow (Cranford), Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Mr Collins (Pride and Prejudice ’05), Fancy Day/Lizzie Hexam (Under the Greenwood Tree/Our Mutual Friend), Ser Jorah (Game of Thrones), Ned Gowan (Outlander)