On screens soon: Five upcoming book adaptations to get excited about

From Sarah Haywood's 'The Cactus' to Elena Ferrante's 'The Lying Life of Adults', here are some reads that are working their way to film and TV

Kenneth Branagh stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Nicola Dove / Twentieth Century Fox
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Some hardened bibliophiles might shudder at the thought of their favourite books being adapted into films and TV shows. Yet, there’s often something satisfying about seeing characters in whom you’ve invested time and emotion coming to life on the big or small screen.

Also, let’s be frank. There are a lot of literary works out there that we wouldn’t have known about had they not inspired a film or TV series.

So, if you’re looking for a new book to read or wondering if your favourites are on their way to becoming motion pictures, we’ve rounded up five works that are being adapted into films and TV shows in the neat future.

'The Cactus'

Reese Witherspoon has just cemented a deal with Netflix to produce and star in two upcoming rom-coms.

While Your Place or Mine is based on an original script, The Cactus is adapted from Sarah Haywood's bestselling novel of the same name.

The novel, which was the pick of Witherspoon’s book club in June 2019, tells the story of a 45-year-old woman’s unexpected pregnancy, which causes her tightly ordered life to slowly unravel. She had never considered motherhood before and the development results in a number of unexpected events, which cause her to rethink her pragmatic and meticulously structured life.

The book is every bit as hilarious as it is poignant and will inspire you to embrace the unexpected.

'The Lying Life of Adults'

Another Netflix adaptation in the works is a TV series based on Elena Ferrante's The Lying Life of Adults.

Though the English translation of the 2019 Italian novel isn’t even out yet (that’s coming up in September), the streaming giant was quick to secure the rights to what promises to be a thrilling and unforgettable Neapolitan story.

And given that Ferrante – named one of the most influential people of 2016 by Time magazine – is one of the most widely read Italian writers of today, it was definitely a smart acquisition.

The Lying Life of Adults revolves around Giovanna, a young girl whose father tells her she is becoming ugly. He says she is growing up to look more like her Aunt Vittoria every day, a woman both her parents deride and avoid. Giovanna then begins to search for her true reflection in two cities that seem to hate and fear one another: the Naples of the heights – a place of refinement and sophistication – and the Naples of the depths – where vulgarity and excess dominate.

Yet, Giovanna drifts between these two places, seemingly unable to ground herself in any of them.

'The Woman in the Window'

Based on the 2018 novel by pseudonymous writer AJ Finn, The Woman in the Window is centred around an agoraphobic psychologist in New York City who befriends a neighbour from across the street.

The friendship takes Dr Anna Fox, who in the film is played by Amy Adams, on a twisted journey after her neighbour disappears and she suspects the worst.

The film has cast a number of high-profile actors including Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Anthony Mackie.

The film was slated for a Thursday, May 14 release, but it seems to have been indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel has a cult following, and with good reason – it is among the best science-fiction books ever written.

Set on the fictional planet of Arrakis, the novel draws a unique geopolitical web that can only be compared to Lord of the Rings.

The story follows a young royal who not only has to battle hostile native creatures to mine spice – a life extending drug that is the world’s most prized resource – but also uphold his family's stewardship of the land against other interstellar noble houses.

And if you're still not eagerly looking forward to it, we have to add that a good stretch of the arid, desert landscape you'll see in the upcoming film – which is scheduled for a December release – were actually shot right here in Abu Dhabi.  

'Death on the Nile'

After Murder on the Orient Express grossed more than $250 million (Dh918m) internationally, it makes sense that Kenneth Branagh is reprising his role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

Death on the Nile, based on the Agatha Christie novel, explores a mystery that surrounds the death of a newlywed heiress aboard a cruise ship on the Nile. It is up to Poirot to sift through the litany of murderous motives by others on the ship – each of whom dislike the heiress for their own reasons – to find who is responsible for her death. The film also stars Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman and Russell Brand.

Death on the Nile is slated to hit cinemas on Friday, October 9. However, it remains to be seen whether Covid-19 complications cause a delay in its release.