I'm back today with another instalment of From Screen to Page! You can find the first post in this little series here.
In my experience, dramas with the BBC can be a bit of a hit or miss. The Tudors? Yes. The White Queen? No. The Crimson Field? Yes. Birdsong? No. You get the drift.
Thankfully, if you're into period or historical dramas, whether they're original scripts or an adaptation of a book, the BBC is one of the best places to turn to. I've lost count of the amount of books they've adapted at this point. This year alone they've adapted Poldark, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Partners in Crime, Lady Chatterley's Lover, The Go-Between, An Inspector Calls and Cider with Rosie, and will soon be broadcasting The Last Kingdom, an eight-part adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, and an adaptation of War and Peace this winter.
They're well-known for their 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and their 2008 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, and let's not forget their incredibly popular 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre. On top of that there's all their original drama, like The Scandalous Lady W.
Basically, the BBC are no stranger to a period drama. In 2011, BBC Films produced The Awakening, an original British drama and ghost story. I love ghost stories, particularly haunted house stories, so I knew I was going to watch this. I didn't watch it straight away, I'll admit; I'm a bit of a wuss and, even though I love ghost stories, they do still give me the heebie jeebies, but then one summer it happened to be showing on the BBC, so I decided to sit down and watch it. And I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The film is set in 1921 and follows Florence Cathcart, an author whose fiancé was killed during the First World War and who now works with the police to expose supernatural hoaxes. She is visited by a teacher, Robert Mallory, who works at a boy's boarding school in Cumbria where a child has recently died. Everyone at the school believes that the building is haunted and that this haunting may have had something to do with the recent death, so Florence is hired to investigate.
If you haven't seen this film, I recommend checking it out. Perhaps I'm biased but I really enjoy British films and dramas, particularly ghost stories like this one, and it's an ideal watch for this time of year! I recommend curling up with a blanket and a hot chocolate. If you have seen this film and you'd like to experience more stories like this one, then there's a book you simply have to read.
The Little Stranger was first published in 2009 and is Sarah Waters' fifth novel. Sarah Waters is one of my favourite authors; she writes historical fiction set in the 19th and 20th centuries, and The Little Stranger is the only one of her six novels that doesn't have a queer female protagonist. Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Paying Guests all have LGBT* characters in the leading role.
You can check out my review of The Little Stranger here!
While The Awakening is a post-WW1 story, The Little Stranger is a post-WW2 story. Our protagonist is the middle-aged Dr Faraday, who finds himself becoming increasingly involved with Hundreds Hall, an old Edwardian house that is crumbling into ruin, and what remains of the aristocratic family who live there: the Ayreses.
Hundreds Hall is an eerie building, and the servants are convinced its haunted. What's wonderful about this story, though, is that it teases you - is there really a ghost, or are the Ayres family simply the unfortunate victims of mental illness and coincidence?
I adore this book. It's one of the best books I've read this year - I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I put it down - and if you enjoy atmospheric, 20th century ghost stories like The Awakening or The Others you simply have to check this one out. It'll creep under your skin and take root there, and with Halloween on the way could you really ask for anything more than that?