bookish posts

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TV shows based on books

This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: (I MEAN) Based on the series of the same name by Kerry Greenwood! I haven’t actually read the books yet (please don’t tell my friend Ally), but the Australian TV series is one of the most delightful shows I know. It’s got such wonderful female characters–not just Phryne, but Dot and Jane–and some sizzling romance PLUS gorgeous costumes.

Call the Midwife: Based on the series of memoirs by Jennifer Worth. Confession–I haven’t seen the most recent series, and lost interest a bit. BUT as a whole I absolutely love this show. It’s rare that I manage to get through an episode without both laughing and crying. As usual, this is one where the characters make the show. Jenny, Chummy, Trixie, & Cynthia feel like friends at this point.

Elementary: Based on Sherlock Holmes, of course! I really enjoy Elementary, and I think it’s a great example of a looser adaptation that works really well. Because the show relies on the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and the way that ties back to the original, it doesn’t need to stick strictly to the mysteries of the books.

All Creatures Great and Small: Based on the memoirs by James Herriot (yes, I know that’s not his real name). This was one of my favorite TV shows and series of books growing up. They’re really fun, and as a bonus you get Christopher Timothy being delightful, Peter Davison being silly, and Robert Hardy being Robert Hardy.

Bleak House (2005): Based on the book by Charles Dickens. I HAVE SO MANY BLEAK HOUSE FEEEELS. The book is one that I both love and am frustrated by (see also: all of Charles Dickens), but the adaptation does some really interesting things with the characters. Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther and Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock are always going to be my favorites. And there’s that one scene, augh, my heart.

North and South: Based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell. This is a very rare case where I watched the adaptation before the book. And I love them both (I wrote part of a senior thesis on the book!) but AUGH THAT MOVIE. Yes, we could talk about Richard Armitage’s Thornton all day, but I also adore Daniela Denby Ashe as Margaret Hale. She carries the story perfectly. Also deeply loved: the cinematography, the music, the costuming choices.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: Based on the book by Susanna Clarke. This isn’t a perfect adaptation, and since I’m a huge fan of the book I could nitpick what they got wrong forever. But, by and large, the writers and actors managed to distill the essence of a really complex, massive story into a few short hours. (I really warmed to both Charlotte Riley’s Arabella and Bertie Carvel’s Strange.) I will say, however, that I have very strong negative feelings about the changes to the ending, so if you’re super into the way the book ends, be forewarned.

Hornblower: Based on the series by C.S. Forster. So, something that doesn’t come up that often is how much of my childhood was spent reading books about the sea. My dad was kind of obsessed with nautical history and fiction, and I got into it too, around age 10. The Hornblower series isn’t my favorite book-wise, but I loved the TV adaptation, with Ioan Gruffudd, Paul McGann, and Jamie Bamber a LOT. (Archie!!) I haven’t rewatched it in several years, but it’s still one I have fond memories of.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. So, I have very strong feelings about Austen adaptations (P&P 95 forever, pls & thank you). Therefore, I was pretty nervous when I heard about a new vlog version. But I was quickly charmed by this version of Lizzie Bennet, and impressed by the way the writers updated the story.

Hollow Crown: TECHNICALLY, based on a series of plays (Shakespeare’s history plays) rather than a book, but I’m going include it anyway (because I can). I was really impressed by how well the mini-series translated the plays into TV, and the actors were great.


By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

8 replies on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TV shows based on books”

Hornblower! Ioan Gruffudd being noble! Love that series. Read the books after watching and really enjoyed them, too. (Lois McMaster Bujold said Hornblower was an inspiration for Miles Vorkosigan, btw.)

Very curious about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries; hadn’t heard of that one.

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