Monday, May 21, 2018

Hugh Grant Stars in A Very English Scandal: Watch the trailer #basedonabook

Hugh Grant stars as Jeremy Thorpe

Good lord! When is the world really going to be the global village we like to call it? If it were, those of us in the new world would be able to enjoy the best of British telly at the same time as our friends across the pond. Instead, we watch from a distance, our faces pressed against the glass, waiting for our turn. Having just seen a tweet from my British librarian friend Irene saying “Hugh Grant is smashing in A Very English Scandal” I immediately watched the trailer for the BBC mini-series. The program looks fantastic. Irene went on to say she thought it was Grant’s best work yet! Including Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and A Funeral, and About A Boy!? Although, A Very English Scandal featuring what used to be called a homosexual love affair, is also about a boy. Irene also went on to say she hoped I’d have a chance to see it. Me too, Irene. Me too.


The logline

British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe is accused of conspiracy to murder his gay ex-lover and is forced to stand trial in 1979.

But of course, not only is the movie based on historical fact, there’s a book. 

About the book

Soon to be a TV drama series starring Hugh Grant and Ben Wishaw, a behind-the-scenes look at the desperate, scandalous private life of a British MP and champion manipulator, and the history-making trial that exposed his dirty secrets While Jeremy Thorpe served as a Member of Parliament and Leader of the Liberal Party in the 1960s and 70s, his bad behavior went under the radar for years. Police and politicians alike colluded to protect one of their own. In 1970, Thorpe was the most popular and charismatic politician in the country, poised to hold the balance of power in a coalition government. But Jeremy Thorpe was a man with a secret. His homosexual affairs and harassment of past partners, along with his propensity for lying and embezzlement, only escalated as he evaded punishment. Until a dark night on the moor with an ex-lover, a dog and a hired gun led to consequences that even his charm and power couldn’t help him escape. Dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” Thorpe’s climactic case at the Old Bailey in London was the first time that a leading British politician had stood trial on a murder charge, the first time that a murder plot had been hatched in the House of Commons. And it was the first time that a prominent public figure had been exposed as a philandering gay man, in an era when homosexuality had only just become legal. With the pace and drama of a thriller, A Very English Scandal is an extraordinary story of hypocrisy, deceit and betrayal at the heart of the British Establishment.

I’ve done some digging and discovered that Amazon has picked up the rights to the three-episode BBC mini-series. A Very English Scandal also stars Ben Whishaw as one of Thorpe’s young lovers with Patricia Hodge as his wife. Check out the trailer below. Are you watching in Britain? Can my fellow Americans wait? 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Great American Read: Is Your Favorite Book on the List? Can you guess how many have been adapted for the screen?*

One of my favorite books by an American writer


It’s the dream of many a writer to pen THE Great American Novel. Many say Fitzgerald did it with The Great Gatsby, others ascribe the honor to Moby Dick, or To Kill a Mockingbird. Obviously, as the world turns and tumbles, what amounts to the Great American Novel changes. 

One of my all-time favorite books, period.


What’s even more difficult though, is to narrow down, not just the greatest American book, but the greatest novel according to Americans! Either way, it’s an absurd notion—my favorite book may not be my husband’s—that’s for certain—or yours—or the majority of the book reading and voting public but what a delicious argument, outside of politics, to consume and divide us. There’s a new PBS series coming on May 22 at 8pm that will do just that: attempt to narrow down, not just the Great American Novel—difficult enough—but America’s best-loved book! 



Called The Great American Read, the weekly show features Meredith Vieira traveling the country in an effort to narrow down the list from the top 100 books. (Listed below in alphabetical order.) How did they come up with the top 100? A national survey. Personally, I didn’t participate in or have any knowledge of any such survey and I quibble with any list that pits Fifty Shades of Grey against Pride and Prejudice, but be that as it may! 



The criteria for inclusion was that the books be novels (hence The Diary of Ann Frank is not on the list) published in English and that an author could only be represented once—John Green’s Looking for Alaska but not The Fault in Our Stars while The Stand has to stand in for Stephen King’s complete oeuvre. Series too, like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series or the Twilight books, can only be counted once. There are glaring omissions—Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—and unbelievable IMHO inclusions, ie The Shack by William P. Young. I suspect there’s plenty to argue about what didn’t make the list. As well as what did!




Anyway, the idea is to celebrate and encourage reading. There are local events and an interactive website where we can voice our opinions and cast our votes with as much vociferousness as we do for The Voice. 

Many key authors, celebrities and notable figures in the entertainment, sports, news and literary worlds will join Vieira in lending their voices and passion to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. Margaret Atwood, Jenna and Barbara Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Green, Gayle King, George R. R. Martin, Shaquille O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jason Reynolds, Gabrielle Union, Ming-Na Wen and many others will share their personal stories and connections to their favorite titles throughout the series.
Following the two-hour launch event of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, and throughout the summer, viewers will be encouraged to read and engage in the conversation by participating in local events, and by visiting the interactive website & voting for their favoriteat pbs.org/greatamericanread.

The series will return in September with a recap and additional themed episodes exploring the nominated books, leading up to the reveal of “America’s Best-Loved Novel” on Tuesday, October 23.



 1984 George Orwell
 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
 A Prayer For Owen Meany John Irving
 A Separate Peace John Knowles
 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith
 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
 Alex Cross Mysteries (series) James Patterson
 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
 Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
 And Then There Were None Agatha Christie
 Anne of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery
 Another Country James Baldwin
 Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
 Beloved Toni Morrison
 Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
 The Book Thief Markus Zusak
 The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz
 The Call Of The Wild Jack London
 Catch-22 Joseph Heller
 The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
 Charlotte's Web E. B. White
 The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis
 Clan of the Cave Bear Jean M. Auel
 Coldest Winter Ever Sister Souljah
 The Color Purple Alice Walker
 The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
 Mark Haddon
 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
 Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
 Doña Bárbára Rómulo Gallegos
 Dune Frank Herbert
 Fifty Shades Of Grey (series) E. L. James
 Flowers In The Attic V.C. Andrews
 Foundation (series) Isaac Asimov
 Frankenstein Mary Shelley
 Game of Thrones (series) George R. R. Martin
 Ghost Jason Reynolds
 Gilead Marilynne Robinson
 The Giver Lois Lowry
 The Godfather Mario Puzo
 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
 Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
 The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
 Great Expectations Charles Dickens
 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
 Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift
 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
 Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling
 Hatchet (series) Gary Paulsen
 Heart Of Darkness Joseph Conrad
 The Help Kathryn Stockett
 The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy
 Douglas Adams
 The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins
 The Hunt For Red October Tom Clancy
 The Intuitionist Colson Whitehead
 Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
 The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan
 Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
 Left Behind (series) Tim LaHaye and
 Jerry B. Jenkins
 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
 Little Women Louisa May Alcott
 Lonesome Dove Larry McMurtry
 Looking for Alaska John Green
 The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien
 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
 The Martian Andy Weir
 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
 Mind Invaders Dave Hunt
 Moby-Dick Herman Melville
 The Notebook Nicholas Sparks
 One Hundred Years of Solitude
 Gabriel García Márquez
 Outlander (series) Diana Gabaldon
 The Outsiders S. E. Hinton
 The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
 The Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan
 The Pillars of The Earth Ken Follett
 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
 Ready Player One Ernest Cline
 Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
 The Shack William P. Young
 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse
 The Sirens Of Titan Kurt Vonnegut
 The Stand Stephen King
 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
 Swan Song Robert R. McCammon
 Tales of The City (series) Armistead Maupin
 Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
 Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
 This Present Darkness Frank. E. Peretti
 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
 The Twilight Saga (series) Stephenie Meyer
 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
 Watchers Dean Koontz
 The Wheel of Time (series) Robert Jordan and
 Brandon Sanderson
 Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls
 White Teeth Zadie Smith
 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë

What’s your favorite book? Is it on the list? What didn’t make the cut but should have?

*The answer is 85. And of the fifteen remaining books, five are listed as being in development. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Put Sharp Objects in Your Beach Bag: The Series Starring Amy Adams Premieres on July 8th #book2movie

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects

It’s official. Sharp Objects will be your summer binge. HBO just announced the series starring Amy Adams will make its debut on July 8th at 9pm.

Based on the book by Gone Girl author, Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is the story of reporter Camille Preaker (Adams) who goes back to her hometown to report on the murders of two young girls. Camille, as though of you who’ve read the novel, is quite a flawed main character.

I took a quick look back at my review from 9/6/2016 where I noted she makes a lot of “self-sabotaging choices that mess up her head and her life.’’

And, this ...
“Again, as in Gone Girl, the ending wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting. I finished the book feeling slightly unsatisfied but you know what they “you don't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need.’’




The 8-episode series also stars Chris Messina, Eliza Scanlen, Patricia Clarkson, Elizabeth Perkins, Matt Craven, Henry Czerny, Taylor John Smith, Sophia Lillis and Madison Davenport. 

Directed by Big Little Lie’s Jean-Marc Vallée from scripts by Marti Noxon and Gillian Flynn, I’m looking forward to it. I may have to give the novel a quick re-read. Have you read Sharp Objects? With summer around the corner, I’m predicting it will be making its appearance in a lot of beach bags.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Bookshop by Penolope Fitzgerald: My take on the book [review] #book2movie


The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald is a surprisingly affecting little book. At just 118 pages, the novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize when it was published in 1978. The story of two women, one who wants to turn a crumbling, damp old house into a bookshop, the other who wants to use the home for an art center, it’s a strange and unexpected battle. Especially unexpected, that such a small bookish book would be adapted for the screen. There is very little action, and the battle isn’t likely to compete with the Marvel universe for viewers.

It is in fact, a battle in name only. In the tradition of best British manners, no one gets into a huge shouting match. It’s more of a stand-off, the fighting taking place in the stubbornness and resolve of the two women. At first, Florence (played by Emily Mortimer in the film) is resolute, she buys the property despite knowing there are some in the village whispering against the idea. Ignoring them, she goes about preparing to fulfill her own dream of opening a bookshop, the details of which, from stocking shelves to receiving shipments from publishers, Fitzgerald shares in passages that will delight any book lover’s heart—and for a time, the store seems to be a success.


Success, until her nemesis, quietly, behind the scenes, using her powerful clout, sets some gears into motion that ultimately changes things. That's when this small and charming book packs a powerful little gut punch. 

Because we are readers and lovers of books, you and I, we root for Florence even while a tiny part of us wishes something could be done to accommodate the art center as well. Art is noble too, yes? Except, of course, the other woman, Mrs. Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), is a bit of a snooty upper-crusty bitch while Florence is a lovely Every Woman. Meaning every woman (or man) who has ever harbored the dream of opening a small bookshop ... which may be every reader ever! I know I’m not the only one who has a fond fantasy of opening a bookstore cafe! 

Take a gander at how this plays out on film. 
In the movie, Bill Nighy takes the part of Edmund Brundish, a reclusive local who reaches out to Florence with a letter of support. In the novel, Florence sends Mr. Brundish a copy of Nabokov’s then-new book Lolita, asking whether he thinks it advisable to order the book. He responds that she should order it, despite the fact that none of the villagers will understand it, because it will be good for them.  

Taking a look at the clip below, it appears because of the controversial nature of the novel, that the filmmakers have changed the novel in question to Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles





For a lovely and comprehensive review of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel take a look at RohanMaitzen.com  Ms. Maitzen calls it “a gem of a book: spare but revealing, quirky but unsentimental.’’

The movie looks to be exactly that, “quirky but unsentimental.’’ While our friends around the world are beginning to see the film in throughout May and June, here in the US we’ll have to wait until August 24th. 



Benedict Cumberbatch on Patrick Melrose [featurette] #book2movie

“It’s a man on the brink of collapsing into himself in an episode of drug-fueled schizophrenia.’’


Patrick Melrose is a five-episode event on Showtime. Episode One aired this Saturday and is now available On Demand, so if you haven’t started watching, you can still catch up. You may want to because Benedict Cumberbatch is almost certainly going to be the front-runner for next year’s Best Actor Emmy award for his portrayal of the drug-addled Melrose. 



Watching the episode about Melrose traveling to New York to retrieve his father’s ashes (Hugo Weaving) I was both repulsed and fascinated by his wild swings between going straight and doing what he needed to get his fix. As anyone who has friends or family with addiction issues, whether it’s cocaine, heroin or the more commonplace alcohol, those wild swings are what drive you crazy. You get to a place where you know they’ll never get sober, never get straight, but the frenzy they create in your life goes on. The fear that one more fix, one more snort, one more drink is the one that kills them. 


It’s exhausting. It was exhausting to watch Cumberbatch too, on the verge, as he says in the quote above, of collapsing into himself. He got every tick, every crazy-eyed, every slow slur of speech—you should see him after he dropped a quaalude when the muscles of his body are so relaxed, he oozes to and along the floor—exactly right. 


Patrick Melrose, based on the books by Edward St. Aubyn was scripted by David Nicholls (One Day). The cast includes Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife). A highlight of episode one was Allison Williams in a surprisingly mature role for the actor who played Marnie in Girls. 


Are you watching Patrick Melrose? Let me know what you think in the comment section below. I’m all ears.

Connect with Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday

Monday, May 14, 2018

Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams Star in Disobedience: Based on the book by Naomi Alderman #book2movie

Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz star in Disobedience

Why so secretive? Did Disobedience slip through the cracks because it features a lesbian love affair? Based on the book by Naomi Alderman, Disobedience stars Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz and is in theaters now!


The logline

A woman returns to the community that shunned her for her attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.

About the book

When a young photographer living in New York learns that her estranged father, a well-respected rabbi, has died, she can no longer run away from the truth, and soon sets out for the Orthodox Jewish community in London where she grew up.

Back for the first time in years, Ronit can feel the disapproving eyes of the community. Especially those of her beloved cousin, Dovid, her father’s favorite student and now an admired rabbi himself, and Esti, who was once her only ally in youthful rebelliousness. Now Esti is married to Dovid, and Ronit is shocked by how different they both seem, and how much greater the gulf between them is.
But when old flames reignite and the shocking truth about Ronit and Esti’s relationship is revealed, the past and present converge in this award-winning and critically acclaimed novel about the universality of love and faith, and the strength and sacrifice it takes to fight for what you believe in—even when it means disobedience.
Clearly, this is an intriguing and powerful story about faith and forbidden love, one rarely told. Have you read the book? Is the movie on your list? 

Let’s check out the trailer.





Tell me what you think in the comment section below. I’m all ears!
Connecting with Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday where others may share my interest in seeing London’s Jewish Orthodox community. I imagine this film is the closest  I'll get. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Colin Firth and Julie Walters to Star in The Secret Garden #basedonabook #book2movie


Far be it from me to say not another adaptation of The Secret Garden! Especially not with Colin Firth attached as her widowed uncle. The classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my favorites as a child; it’s likely where I got my love of ivy-covered garden walls and half-hidden doors.  

The book has been adapted several times. First in 1949, with Margaret O’BrienHerbert Marshall and Dean Stockwell in the leads, followed by adaptations in 1975, 1987 and 1993.



To be honest, I don’t think any of them captured that magical feeling one got as a child from the book.
When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors. 
The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.
But who knew Colin Firth has actually been in The Secret Garden before? He played the grown-up Colin Craven! 



This time around he’s joined by Julie Walters as Mrs. Medlock who runs the household with young actress Dixie Egerickx (not a typo!) as Mary. We’ll soon be seeing a lot of her, she also plays Gillian Baker-Hyde—the little girl who plays with the dog— in the upcoming The Little Stranger.
Jack Thorne (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams) is penning the script.
1949

1975

1987

1993

2017


You can stream the 1993 version in most of the usual places.
And you can watch the trailer here.


It will be ages before The Secret Garden hits the screen. Your children may be all grown up by then. Might as well suggest they read the book now. A Secret Garden Awaits!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Behind the Scenes: On Chesil Beach & its Gorgeous Soundtrack

Saoirse Ronan plays a gifted violinist in On Chesil Beach


Music is important to almost all films, but when one of your two leads is a gifted violinist, trained in the classics, the score is all the more important. In On Chesil Beach, Florence plays a violin student who falls in love with Edward, a rock and roll fan. 

The following video takes a look at how the film’s composer Dan Jones approached the music including what he describes as how Florence experiences the feeling of falling in love and “carrying this music in her head.’’  



I hope this doesn’t ruin the film for you but it will be Esther Yoo, not Saoirse Ronan, you’ll be hearing play the violin throughout the movie. But you knew that, didn’t you? As genius as Ronan is, our young three-time Oscar nominee really can’t do everything. I’m looking forward, though, to seeing what she does in this film.

Both the movie and the soundtrack from Decca Records are set for release May 18th. You can pre-order the soundtrack on Amazon now. It sounds like the kind of music that swells and envelops you.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin: My Take on the Book #book2movie #review #trailer


Updated: 5/10/2018
Updated: 2/28/2016
Originally published: 2/12/2013

I usually don’t write about books unless they have been, or are going to be, made into a movie. The book had not been optioned and there was no word on a screen adaptation of The World Without You by Joshua Henkin when I first wrote this post but I loved the book so much I was just wishin’ and hopin’ that it would be. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. Henkin has written an emotionally-charged family drama; with strong and intriguing female characters—women so authentic and so interesting I had to double check his name and picture on the jacket several times to make sure he was indeed a man—hapless husbands, boyfriends, a passel of kids and the ever-present spirit of Leo Frankel. It has to be made into a movie. It has to be!



Imagine my thrill when I learned that The World Without You WAS actually going to be adapted for the screen!

2/28/2016

I don’t see it in the trades yet but have just heard from a good authority that The World Without You IS going to be made into a film. Damon Shalit (African Gothic, The A-List) is producing, with Dan Pulick writing the script. I’m absolutely thrilled!



5/10/2018
The movie is complete! There’s no release date yet but there’s a trailer. And no, none of my dream cast wishes came true. (See the bottom of the post) BUT the cast is made up of talented actors.  All that’s left is to find out when and where it’s playing. Will it pop up on Netflix or Amazon? This curious mind wants to know. I’ve included pictures of the actual cast along with my thoughts on the book, below. 


About the book:

It’s a good thing I’m old enough to know you really can’t judge a book by its cover. I probably wouldn’t have picked up The World Without You were I basing my choice solely on the cover shot of fireworks against the black sky. That would have been my loss. It’s easy to criticize though I’m not sure what I’d suggest to front this beautiful and poignant book about a family coming together for a memorial a year after the death of the family’s only son, Leo Frankel.

A journalist who was killed in Iraq in 2004, Leo has left behind his wife and young son, a trio of older sisters, and his parents so shattered by grief, their marriage has fallen apart. Most of the novel takes place at the family’s vacation house in the Berkshires, over a long Fourth of July weekend. 
Hence the fireworks on the jacket; and okay, maybe a pretty apt visual for what takes place over the course of that weekend. What did I want? A picture of a cemetery, the Fourth of July parade passing by? 


In any case ... look! The paperback from Vintage Contemporaries has a new cover ...

Marilyn and David are Leo’s parents and, on the surface, responding to his death quite differently. 



Chris Mulkey is David, the father

David, a retired high school English teacher, seems to throw himself into life, taking classes, joining things. Actor Chris Mulkey is one of those character actors you see all the time, in everything. A fine actor, he has over a dozen projects in various stages of pre-and post-production.


Suzanne C. Johnson is Marilyn, Leo’s grief-stricken mother

Marilyn, a retired physician, throws herself into Leo’s death by writing Op-Ed pieces on the war. It’s an unbearable thought but if I were Marilyn, that’s what I would do. Shout his name from the rooftops, hammer it home, desperate to keep his memory as alive in the world as it would be in my heart and soul. Motherlove.  David’s refusal - or inability - to grieve outwardly in the only way that Marilyn understands, her way, is the breaking point in their forty-year marriage. As a mother of a son, our only child, it’s too painful to think about, to put myself in her place. I can’t do it, I won’t do it but I have a hunch I would be just as miserably pig-headed as Marilyn in my devastation.



That then is the state of affairs when the girls and their families arrive for the memorial. A difficult time under the best of circumstances and these are not the best of circumstances. 
The women are all such fabulous characters (and in the book, all the sisters are redheads too!)


Perrey Reeves as Clarissa

Clarissa, the eldest at 39, a cellist, is frantic to conceive, going at it with her potential Nobel laureate hubby Nathaniel, whenever her ovulation kit dictates. 




James Tupper (Nathan) as seen in Big Little Lies 

My husband and I married late, we had Russell when I was thirty-nine so her angst over having a child resonated with me. You’ve seen actress Perrey Reeves as Mrs. Ari on Entourage while Tupper played Nathan, Reese Witherspoon’s ex on Big Little Lies, Season One. And yes, good news fellow fans, he’ll be back for season two.


Annika Marks (Noelle) with Suzanne C. Jones

Noelle, the youngest of the sisters was, for me, the most interesting and volatile. A real dirty girl in her teens, she changed her ways, moved to Israel, got married and along with her husband, Amram, became an Orthodox Jew. 


P.J. Byrne (Amram) with Annika Marks (Noelle)

Do you recognize Amram? Another Big Little Lies alum, Noelle’s husband is played by P.J. Byrne, who we know as the principal in the hit HBO show. 

There’s nothing like a reformed sinner and in practicing her religion, Noelle, in an ankle-length denim skirt and head scarf, is observant to the nth degree. The details Henkin includes re the family’s Judaism and Noelle’s Orthodox Judaism in particular, are an aspect of the book that this WASP found fascinating. Practicing real estate in the Los Angeles area, I’ve been in homes where there is a Mezuzah, not just at the front door, but outside the doorway to each bedroom. Sometimes there are two ovens in the kitchen, making it easier to keep a Kosher kitchen. It’s a commitment, to be sure.


 Radha Mitchell (right) is Lily

Lily is the lawyer in the middle, level-headed—because that’s how we middle kids are—private,  in a long-term live-in relationship with Malcolm, a chef looking to open his first restaurant. This is the least dramatic storyline, just what you would expect a middle child to deliver. [Personal note: while I’ve never met Mitchell, my husband was the 2nd AD on Evidence in which she plays a detective hunting down a mass murderer.]



Joel Reitsma (Leo) and Lyndie Greenwood (Thisbe)

Then there is Thisbe, Leo’s widow. A non-Jew and an outsider but the mother of Leo’s son, Calder (a waspy name if I ever heard one), she isn’t sure how she fits in with the family anymore. I found myself appraising her critically, laying down judgment, wishing that Henken had set this memorial two years out from Leo’s death so that her issues would seem less selfish. Too soon, Thisbe, I found myself thinking, too soon. Poor Thisbe has to bear all my Gentile guilt. In the film, they’ve upped the ante. She’s not just a non-Jew, she’s biracial which likely adds some additional drama. You may know actor Lyndie Greenwood best from Sleepy Hollow. 



Lynn Cohen, another famously unfamous character actress is Gretchen

The last lady to play a part in the family drama is Gretchen, David's mother; a wealthy, controlling woman whose presence makes itself felt as surely as Maggie Smith’s Violet on Downton Abbey! Except we all love Violet; Gretchen, not so much.


Back to the book ...

Henkin takes his ensemble and much like a choreographer flawlessly dances them in and out of suppers and tennis matches, hotel rooms and hallways, situations and conversations; each one revealing misunderstood intentions and hurt feelings nursed over time, building, as the family arrives at the day of the memorial itself. It is a hard thing when death comes and rearranges things, messes with our relationships without our consent. It’s difficult to share our grief, to make known our loss. Thisbe and Leo’s sisters do the best they can; Joshua Henkin captures the pathos perfectly and I found my own throat raw with empathy.

This is a beautiful book with a myriad of characters that readers will connect with. I came to know them, and so, to care for them over the course of the novel. Which is why I want to see The World Without You as a film. Action films are good fun but give me a character-driven drama any day! 


While we don’t have a release date, we do have a trailer which was released this month. Does that mean a release is imminent? Shall we take a look? 






My original post from 2013


For the curious at the bottom of the post is my original dream cast for some of the major roles. As you can see none of my casting suggestions have come to pass! 

The first person I’m casting is the always red-hot Jessica Chastain as the more complex and Orthodox Noelle. She was serious as well as sexy in The Debt, flirtatious and insecure in The Help and determined as all get out in Zero Dark Thirty. Right now I think Chastain can do almost anything and I can see her in Noelle’s long skirts. With a little luck and the help of a good cinematographer, the mid-30’s actress might even be able to pull off her teenage self.  I’m not sure about the rest of characters yet—and as my aspiring writer/director filmmaker son reminds me, the sisters don’t all have to actually be “Hair dye, Mom. Remember?’’).  Perhaps an Amanda Peet type as Lily with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clarissa.



Jessica Chastain in The Debt

Marilyn who is 70 in the book will be a challenging and amazing role for an older actress; the dearth of parts for actresses over 50 being what it is. Get me beautiful Blythe Danner on the phone. If she’s not available how about Dianne Wiest, Helen Mirren, Jacki Weaver? Or even Jane Fonda although looking at her in The Book Club, it’s hard to tell how old she is supposed to be. 

As for the men, maybe Albert Brooks as David, Leo’s dad and the retired high school English teacher.  Or Richard Dreyfuss?


As for someone as big and sloppy as Amram—sorry Jon Favreau but I’m thinking of you! 




I'll let you know as soon as I hear any news about a release date in the meantime, I hope you read the book. If you liked Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You, Kari Haut Hemming’s The Descendants or Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings PlaybookI think you'll love this one.


Originally published 2/12/13 



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