I wasn't a big fan of Jane Harper's Force of Nature, the follow-up to her wonderful debut The Dry, but I'll head to the cinema to watch Eric Bana return as detective Aaron Falk when the star-studded film hits the cinemas from February 8.
I think The Lost Man is her best book; Exiles, the third in the Aaron Falk series was good too. I imagine director Robert Connelly is working out a way to bring that one to the big screen.
I've been thinking about book-to-screen adaptations of late. I've finally watched the Apple TV series Lessons in Chemistry, starring Brie Larson as chemist Elizabeth Zott, after avoiding it for a good few months. I just couldn't bring myself to watch it because I thought the book, published in 2022, was about the most perfect story I had ever read. I just didn't want the reading experience spoiled by a mediocre adaptation.
But I shouldn't have worried. The Apple series was as equally brilliant. Funny, sad, full of lessons, and not just about chemistry. It was magical. It was nominated for two Golden Globes. Larson, who I don't like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was wonderful as Zott, chemist, mother, television cooking show host.
I can't recommend it more highly. The series and the book.
But what other book to screen adaptations have impressed me? I've decided to stick to television here. I don't want to get into discussions about The Godfather or Jurassic Park or The Shining.
I've been on the Chris Hammer bandwagon since I spoke to him about his debut novel in 2018. So when the Stan adaptation hit our screens late in 2023 I felt I had been part of the whole journey. Lord, the series was amazing. I'd forgotten the plot which made it even more exciting. Made in Australia, a great cast. The kind of television that keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes you proud you're Australian and that we're getting such amazing things to our screen.
Better than the book? Sorry Chris, it was.
Big Little Lies
I've interviewed Liane Moriarty a few times. Lovely lady, great storyteller. But throw Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern (not to mention Meryl Streep in the second season) into the mix and things get ramped up a little. The series was riveting television, it won a bucketload of awards, four Golden Globes and five primetime Emmy Awards. The only change I didn't like was moving the setting to southern California, from Sydney's Northern Beaches. Looking forward to seeing Apples Never Fall, starring Annette Bening and Sam Neill, due out later this year. The book was okay.
Better than the book? By a Monterey mile.
Sex and The City
Candace Bushnell published the book, an anthology of her newspaper columns (hhm, there's an idea) in 1996; the series hit our screens in 1998 and ran for 94 episodes over six years. For as much as Carrie Bradshaw annoyed me at times, this series was acclaimed for its treatment of issues never before discussed on prime time television. Bushnell's books never really had the same emotion.
Better than the book? For sure. Just don't get me started on And Just Like That ...
Game of Thrones
I'd better be upfront and admit I've never read any of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books. But how can anything be better than this series? I watched the hard way. I wasn't on board from the beginning, because really, who likes fantasy stories? I went on a rare date and the fellow couldn't believe I hadn't seen it. So I binge watched the first six seasons in a week and was too caught up to ever line up a second date. My heart belonged to Jon Snow.
Better than the book? It has to be. Although I'm happy to hear why I'm wrong.
The Last of Us
Not technically a book but a video game. Which I've never played. But again, how can the game be better than this 2023 series which touched the very heart of us all. Who can forget episode three, with Frank and Bill. I still cry when I hear Max Richter's On the Nature of Daylight. We all wanted Pedro Pascal to rescue us. It made us take a closer look at mushrooms. Just what we needed to remind us of humanity post pandemic.
Better than the game? Perhaps I should play it and find out, but surely.