Amongst my favourite things in life are books, films and box sets. One of my other favourite things in life is love, and Valentine’s Day offers a perfect excuse to curl up with a romantic book, or persuade/force/cajole my husband into watching one of my favourite soppy films. Better still, both – with books about love that have also been turned into film and TV just perfect for that Valentine’s evening cosy time with your other half/dog/cat/poster of Ryan Gosling. So in the spirit of all things romance, today I’m rounding up six of my favourite books about love which have also been adapted for the big (or small) screen. I wonder how many of these would make your Valentine’s Day entertainment list? 🙂
1. The Twilight Saga
Unless you were holed up in some sort of alternate universe in the years from approximately 2008-2012, it’s unlikely you won’t have heard of the Twilight Saga, a 5-part romantic extravaganza based on the series of books by Stephenie Meyer. Following a sort of triangular love story between a human girl (Bella), a vampire (Edward), and a werewolf (Jacob), the Twilight series is a love story with a difference which had many of us mere mortals hooked for the best part of five years. And not without good reason. Whether you’re Team Edward or Team Jacob, a dip into the Twilight series on Valentine’s Day equals a healthy dose of action-packed romantic escapism. And with four books and five films to choose from you’re spoilt for choice – although personally I’d have to pin it down to the original Twilight movie for its edgy, indie feel, and the last Twilight book, Breaking Dawn, for its gripping, page turning style and heart-stopping finale.
2. One Day
Next on my list is One Day, David Nicholl’s drama charting the relationship between a couple, Dexter and Emma, following a night spent together on St Swithin’s Day in 1988 and on the same day every year over the course of the next two decades. One Day is one of my all-time favourite novels, and when I finished reading it I felt like I’d lost two friends while I wandered around in a sort of haze wondering how my life could possibly move on (exactly how a great book should make you feel, I think). Inevitably the movie could never withstand this sort of emotional baggage, but Lone Scherfig’s adaption starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess is still a lovely portrayal of the sweet, funny and moving relationship between the two protagonists. It’s definitely worth considering for your Valentine’s night entertainment (and if you’ve ever read a romantic novel to match up to One Day, then please do let me know).
War time drama Atonement, based on Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel of the same name, and starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the leading roles, tells the thwarted love story of Cecilia and Robbie, and a childish act of cruelty that impacts on both their lives forever. Both the book and the film are beautiful, and whilst devastating in their impact, gently weave themes of love, guilt and circumstance until you are totally absorbed in the story between the three central characters around whom the action unfolds. The performances of Knightley and McAvoy in the film version are nothing short of incredible, and when Robbie tells Cecilia: ‘I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame,’ you might find yourself weeping.
And also – left with the feeling that the lovers deserve absolutely nothing less than that.
4. Me Before You
Me Before You is a bittersweet story about the relationship between happy-go-lucky Louisa Clark and Will Traynor, a young man left paralysed after a road traffic accident. After Lou accepts a job as Will’s caregiver, the two strike up an unlikely bond and Jojo Moyes’ book – and the film that later followed – charts the pair’s relationship as Lou tries to persuade a depressed Will that life is still worth living despite it all. Along the way it’s not just Will who learns a few lessons about life though, and the story unfolds with all the compassion, warmth and heart I’ve come to expect in every one of Jojo Moyes’ novels. Whether you sit down to the book or the film you won’t be disappointed, and despite the difficult subject matter, Me Before You remains a charming, life affirming and romantic story about life, loss and the people who change us along the way.
5. The Outlander Series
If you read my blog regularly, it will come as no surprise to see Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series mentioned in this round up. Gabaldon’s saga – about a time-travelling nurse who finds herself transported from 1946 Inverness to the Scotland of 1743 – has been one of my my bookish love affairs for years. And as love affairs go, they don’t come much more epic than the one that blooms between ‘Sassenach’ Claire, and Highlander Jamie – both in the books, and the equally epic TV adaption. Be prepared for a sprawling, can’t-breathe-without-you love story – and of course, Scotland, looking glorious.
6. The Notebook
Finally, could any self respecting Valentine’s Day ‘best of’ list be complete without mention of The Notebook? Nicholas Spark’s romantic drama about the love affair between Allie and Noah (later adapted for the screen in a production directed by Nick Cassavetes), is the ultimate in heady, heart-rending, not-a-dry-eye-in-the-house romance. It’s one of only a few examples of a book-to-film adaption where I actually prefer the movie, not least because of the fantastic performances by Ryan Gosling (yes him again), and Rachel McAdams as the leading couple. Only the hardest of hearts could fail to be moved by the film’s ending, or resist imagining life as a seagull when Noah tells Allie ‘if you’re a bird I’m a bird’ (*in the background, husband rolls eyes*). Call me old fashioned, but in the difficult world we live in, I think The Notebook is a much needed reminder that love really is the GREATEST. It’s the perfect Valentine’s night movie – just make sure you have a large box of tissues close at hand.
And that’s it for this round up of my favourite book-to-screen adaptations for Valentine’s Day – I do hope it’s given you some ideas for your evening’s entertainment. What do you think, have I chosen wisely? I’d love to hear about your favourite books and films for Valentine’s Day too!
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission should you purchase via them.
*The original version of this post first appeared on the blog in February 2018.
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