Nancy Carstens: I watched “The Woman In the Window” on Netflix. It was okay. I really enjoyed the book, by A.J. Flynn. I was on the edge of my seat, and honestly didn’t have it figured out until the end. I thought the adaptation had a really compressed feeling to it. I thought there were a lot of holes in the development of the story that I was able to fill in since I had read the book. I’m not sure someone who hadn’t read the book would enjoy it.
Merrile Stroud: I 100 percent agree with you! The book was one of those that made me stay up to finish it, while the movie was like watching paint dry. The sad thing is that it had such a promising cast, with Amy Adams and Julianne Moore. You’re so right: The most important plot lines were eliminated.
NC: I thought the movie version of “The Woman on the Train” had the same problem. I enjoyed the book (by Paula Hawkins) a lot. I had it figured out before the end, but that’s part of the fun. I was able to keep up with the plot of the movie since I had read the book, but I know people who watched it and were completely lost.
MS: I loved the book “The Woman on the Train,” but, yes, the movie had the exact same problems. I love, love, love a gaslight story and flew through it! Once again, a great cast led by the uber-talented Emily Blunt failed to deliver.
NC: The mystery-thriller that I did not like was “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. I want to like at least one character in a book. Not this book. I didn’t even try to watch the movie. I thought the book was peopled with despicable characters. Why would I want to see them brought to life on the screen?
MS: I did love the book “Gone Girl.” I don’t mind despicable characters. But I hated the movie. The movie was borderline filth, in my opinion.
NC: “Big Little Lies” by Lianne Moriarty was another book that I didn’t really enjoy, and I didn’t bother to watch it on HBO. But I know it was very popular - both the book and the series. The only reason I read the book was because I was completing a reading challenge and one of the categories was A Book You Previously Gave Up On.
MS: You know I loved “Big Little Lies!” I basically love all of Lianne Moriarty’s books and cannot wait for the Hulu adaptation of “Nine Perfect Strangers,” starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy. I did love the BLL series, but find it hard to recommend because it is graphic at many points.
NC: “Nine Prefect Strangers” was an interesting book. I did like it better than “Big Little Lies.” I’ll have to give it a chance on Hulu. I liked the book “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, although I thought her book “Everything I Never Told You” was better. I tried to watch “Little Fires” on Hulu, but I thought it was SO SLOW! And it was just different enough from the book that I lost interest in the storyline quickly. I don’t think I made it through two entire episodes.
MS: I do adore Celeste Ng. I loved the “Little Fires Everywhere” series until they completely changed the ending! I was livid!
NC: A book I loved and also loved the movie was “When A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. I think it is a beautifully written book, even though it’s not a happy story. The movie was one of the most faithful adaptations I have ever seen. In my opinion, neither the book nor the movie has gotten the attention it deserves.
MS: I loved, loved, loved “When a Monster Calls,” both the book and movie. And, yes! It is one of the most underrated books and movies in years.
NC: Another practically perfect adaptation was Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” Shirley Jackson is the queen of the unsettling story, and I thought that everything about the Prime adaptation - from the casting to the cinematography - communicated that. It was really well done!
MS: I loved the book “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” While the movie was well acted and the cinematography was excellent, I felt it didn’t capture the magic of the story. I watched the Hulu biopic about Shirley Jackson (with Elizabeth Moss), “Shirley.” It was so insightful into why her stories are dark.
NC: In an unusual turn of events, I thought the Netflix version of “Dumplin’” was better than the book by Julie Murphy. I hate to say it, but it got to the point that I felt that the theme of “we’re all worthy no matter our size, shape, color, etc.” was just being crammed down my throat. I wanted to tell the main character that the chip on her shoulder was the only thing unworthy in the story. The adaptation made the same point in a really moving and entertaining way.
MS: That is dead on! The book felt like a lecture, while the movie was one of my very, very favorites in recent history.
NC: Speaking of your favorites, what about an adaptation of your favorite book? I recently watched the Greta Gerwig adaptation of “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. I loved it! Having watched your four girls for decades now, I thought it was a realistic representation of the sisterly dynamic. The story has been around since 1868. I thought this adaptation breathed some fresh life into it, and in many ways was truer to the book than other versions. It just reminded me of what a wonderful book it is! For anyone who hasn’t read “Little Women” in a while, or ever, there is an Audible Original dramatization narrated by Laura Dern (Greta Gerwig’s Marmee.) It’s free to Audible members, and really entertaining.
MS: Having seen every “Little Women” movie ever made, Greta Gerwig’s is MY FAV! Marmee is finally fleshed out and allowed to be tired and frustrated. The complexity of all-girl families is perfection. Yes, having wanted this all my life, I keep hearing the mother from “Downton Abbey” saying, “Having all daughters is like ‘Little Women’ one day and they’re at each others’ throats the next.’”
MS: Do you want to know the books I’d most like to see adapted to film? “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, “The Push” by Ashley Audrain, and “Where They Found Her” by Kimberly McCreight.
NC: Ooooh, I don’t know about “The Nightingale.” I don’t know if anyone could do it justice. “The Push” could be good. I haven’t read “Where They Found Her,” so I guess that’s going on my list.
We hope we have given you some ideas for your reading and watching lists. Enjoy!