Constantinos Psillides chooses the best of those ready for film/TV adaptions

“Why is it that those who have never fought in a battle, are so eager to be in one?”. If you haven’t picked up on that quote, then you need to go see FX’s Shogun, arguably one of the best-limited series to come out in 2024.

Rekindle your love for ancient Japan, through the legendary tale of John Blackthorne, an English sailor in the 15th century who ends up shipwrecked in Japan and finds himself in the court of the most powerful warlord (daimyo), Lord Toranaga. The feudal lord is fighting his own battles as he tries to assert his authority over the rest feudal lords to unify the country. When Blackthrone ends up at his shore he sees the opportunity to use a wildcard against his opponents and utilise him to achieve victory.

Shogun is an incredible series, a top contender for drama of the year, and the fact that it is just one season makes it all the more compelling. A neat, tightly packed story with no fillers that keeps you on the edge of your seat and doesn’t resort to setting up multiple future plotlines or ending up on a cliffhanger, is rare these days.

Shogun is based on a book by James Clavell and is considered to be historical fiction. A literary genre where a writer takes real-life events and builds a fictional story around them. As Shogun is met with critical acclaim and commercial success, it makes sense that studios will look into similar books to adapt. Here’s a list of our favourite ones!

 

Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge

I have absolutely no idea why Lizzie Pook’s book isn’t already optioned to be adapted for the big screen or a TV series. It’s funny, fascinating and features a globe-trotting heroine that is out to seek justice!

The story takes place in Victorian London as the eponymous Maude Horton receives a letter from the British admiralty, informing her that her sister Constance has died on a ship that went on an expedition to the Arctic to find the coveted Northwest Passage. Constance, not wanting to be burdened by society’s norms, had disguised herself as a sailor to join the expedition and kept a journal of her journey. Maude, devastated by the death of her sister and armed with her journal, decides to investigate her death and is determined to have her vengeance.

 

The 7 husbands of Evelyn Hugo

 

An elderly Hollywood star, now a recluse, invites a young journalist to her home for the scoop of the century: a tell-all book about her life. The journalist accepts and visits the silver screen icon, Evelyn Hugo as she recounts her marvelous life, through her seven marriages. As with all good stories, pain and heartbreak are hidden at the centre of her storytelling as she reveals secrets she never told a soul.

The glitz and party life of old Hollywood is revived in this gripping tale, serving as the perfect backdrop for an unexpected love story. We have some good news on the adaptation part as The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has been opted for by Netflix and it is currently in development. No casting announcement yet but as this is a beloved book with an engaging story, it is almost certain that Netflix will throw some money at the project to bring it to life.

 

The Four Winds

Set in Depression-era Texas, The Four Winds tells the story of Elsa, a young woman who will be forced to face impossible odds to secure a better future for herself and her children.

Estranged from both her family and community, with her aspirations for a better existence appearing unattainable, Elsa takes a bold step, forsakes all she knows and embarks on a journey to California, seeking a brighter future for herself and her children.

A woman ostracised, fighting for her loved ones, facing a perilous journey West in search of a better life? How can anyone not love this? Get on it Netflix!

 

The Sarantine Mosaic

Published in 1998 by author Guy Gavriel Kay (whose Tapestry of Fionavar book series is an amazing fantasy saga that for reasons unknown still hasn’t been optioned for TV or film) the Sarantine Mosaic is set in the early Byzantine era, just before the collapse of the Roman Empire. It tells the story of Crispin, a mosaic artist who has lost everything in life and now keeps going motivated solely by the love for his art. Crispin is invited to Sarantium (a stand-in for Constantinople) where he is commissioned to construct a mosaic for the emperor. He soon finds himself caught in palace intrigue and realises that his commissioned work is far more important than he originally thought.

I loved both books in the duology and taking a break from chopping heads and big action set pieces for some discussion on art and power would be a nice change of pace. Invest in writing and dialogue and The Sarantine Mosaic could be a unique series.