14 Classic Book Adaptations I Would Like To See That Aren’t Jane Austen

·8 min read

Listen, I LOVE Jane Austen, and I love Jane Austen adaptations.

Henry Golding as Mr Elliot in Netflix's Persuasion

Especially if they involve handsome men (and they generally do).

Like, if there's a Jane Austen movie or TV show (or YouTube series!), I guarantee I will watch it. Which means I've honestly watched my fair share of pretty subpar adaptations (and some brilliant ones, of course).

As much as I eat up every single Austen iteration, sometimes I can't help but think... wouldn't it be nice if some other books and authors got even a fraction of this attention?

With that in mind, here are some books I'd love to see on screen...

NICK WALL/NETFLIX

1.Evelina by Frances Burney

It's fair to say that Frances Burney paved the way for Jane Austen (and then some). She wrote several novels, but Evelina is undoubtedly the most well-known — and yet there's been no adaptation of it. It tells the story of a young woman of dubious parentage named Evelina whose entrance into London society gets her into all kinds of ridiculous, hilarious, and humiliating situations. There's scandal! Romance! Enormous wigs! Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

It's fair to say that Frances Burney paved the way for Jane Austen (and then some). She wrote several novels, but Evelina is undoubtedly the most well-known — and yet there's been no adaptation of it. It tells the story of a young woman of dubious parentage named Evelina whose entrance into London society gets her into all kinds of ridiculous, hilarious, and humiliating situations. There's scandal! Romance! Enormous wigs!

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

2.The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Another writer that influenced Austen (hello, Northanger Abbey), Ann Radcliffe is also criminally under-adapted. The Mysteries of Udolpho is about an orphaned young woman called Emily St Aubert who is imprisoned in Castle Udolpho by the evil Signor Montoni and kept away from her love, Valancourt. Then, weird things start happening at the castle. Dramatic!Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

Another writer that influenced Austen (hello, Northanger Abbey), Ann Radcliffe is also criminally under-adapted. The Mysteries of Udolpho is about an orphaned young woman called Emily St Aubert who is imprisoned in Castle Udolpho by the evil Signor Montoni and kept away from her love, Valancourt. Then, weird things start happening at the castle. Dramatic!

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

3.Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery

Anne Shirley is a beloved L. M. Montgomery heroine and her story has been adapted multiple times — including a

Anne Shirley is a beloved L. M. Montgomery heroine and her story has been adapted multiple times — including a "gritty" version most recently in Netflix's Anne with an E. But a "grittier" story was right there all along in Emily of New Moon! Also set on Prince Edward Island, and also about an orphan girl who loves writing, but both Emily and the book, on the whole, are much darker than Anne and her series — and, some would argue, more interesting. There have been a couple of adaptations of Emily of New Moon in the past, but we're well overdue for a definitive one.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

4.The Awakening by Kate Chopin

A feminist classic, The Awakening is set in and around New Orleans at the end of the 1800s. It follows a woman named Edna Pontellier, who is married and a mother but strives to escape the stifling environment she finds herself in. Two movies have been based on The Awakening, but the last was a TV movie in 1991, and a current take on the text would be fascinating viewing. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

A feminist classic, The Awakening is set in and around New Orleans at the end of the 1800s. It follows a woman named Edna Pontellier, who is married and a mother but strives to escape the stifling environment she finds herself in. Two movies have been based on The Awakening, but the last was a TV movie in 1991, and a current take on the text would be fascinating viewing.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

5.The Street by Ann Petry

The Street was an instant bestseller in its time and is an important work in the literary thriller canon. Set in Harlem during World War II, it focuses on a single mother, Lutie Johnson, who is living separately from her husband with her eight-year-old son, Bub, after their marriage falls apart. The people she meets in the apartment building she moves into change the course of her life. It's an intense story that would make an exceptional limited series or movie.Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

The Street was an instant bestseller in its time and is an important work in the literary thriller canon. Set in Harlem during World War II, it focuses on a single mother, Lutie Johnson, who is living separately from her husband with her eight-year-old son, Bub, after their marriage falls apart. The people she meets in the apartment building she moves into change the course of her life. It's an intense story that would make an exceptional limited series or movie.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Virago / Via virago.co.uk

6.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Anne is the most overlooked of the Brontë sisters, but it's about time she got more attention. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is perhaps the most forward-thinking of all the sisters' novels, exploring the story of a woman named Helen who flees her alcoholic husband with her son and earns money for them to live on as an artist — defying not just social customs, but also the law. While there has been a couple of TV series based on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the last one was made in 1996 — a fresh take on the novel would be a wonderful thing to see on screen. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

Anne is the most overlooked of the Brontë sisters, but it's about time she got more attention. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is perhaps the most forward-thinking of all the sisters' novels, exploring the story of a woman named Helen who flees her alcoholic husband with her son and earns money for them to live on as an artist — defying not just social customs, but also the law. While there has been a couple of TV series based on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the last one was made in 1996 — a fresh take on the novel would be a wonderful thing to see on screen.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguin.com.au

7.Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë may be well-adapted thanks to Jane Eyre — which has a touch of the Jane Austen syndrome of being adapted over and over again — but weirdly, Charlotte Brontë's other works have barely been touched. Villette was a mini-series over 50 years ago, and since then there's only been a couple of radio serial adaptations. But the story of Lucy Snowe, a young woman who flees her tragic past in England to become an instructor at a French boarding school, deserves new life on screen. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

Charlotte Brontë may be well-adapted thanks to Jane Eyre — which has a touch of the Jane Austen syndrome of being adapted over and over again — but weirdly, Charlotte Brontë's other works have barely been touched. Villette was a mini-series over 50 years ago, and since then there's only been a couple of radio serial adaptations. But the story of Lucy Snowe, a young woman who flees her tragic past in England to become an instructor at a French boarding school, deserves new life on screen.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

8.Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was turned into a popular mini-series in 2004, and some of her other works, including Wives and Daughters and Cranford, have also seen small-screen success. But her debut novel, Mary Barton, has only been adapted for the screen once, in the '60s, and the series is impossible to view now. It touches upon similar themes as North and South — working-class life in an industrialized city and employer/employee relations, but it has bonus courtroom drama as a murder trial unfolds in the second half of the story. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here.

Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was turned into a popular mini-series in 2004, and some of her other works, including Wives and Daughters and Cranford, have also seen small-screen success. But her debut novel, Mary Barton, has only been adapted for the screen once, in the '60s, and the series is impossible to view now. It touches upon similar themes as North and South — working-class life in an industrialized city and employer/employee relations, but it has bonus courtroom drama as a murder trial unfolds in the second half of the story.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here.

Penguin Random House / Via penguin.com.au

9.The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

One of the prominent classics that focuses on lesbian love, The Well of Loneliness was once almost turned into a movie starring Emma Thompson, but it never quite got off the ground. The story is about an upper-class woman named Stephen Gordon, who falls in love with a series of other women against the backdrop of the historic events of the early 1900s. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 

One of the prominent classics that focuses on lesbian love, The Well of Loneliness was once almost turned into a movie starring Emma Thompson, but it never quite got off the ground. The story is about an upper-class woman named Stephen Gordon, who falls in love with a series of other women against the backdrop of the historic events of the early 1900s.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Random House / Via penguin.com.au

10.Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

One of the pre-eminent works of Nigerian literature, Things Fall Apart explores pre- and post-colonial Nigeria through the life of Okonkwo, a leader in his Igbo community who falls from power after his involvement in a murder and is exiled from his village, only to return to find European missionaries have arrived with disastrous consequences. Things Fall Apart was made into a movie in 1970 and a miniseries in 1987, so a new adaptation is well and truly due.Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here.

One of the pre-eminent works of Nigerian literature, Things Fall Apart explores pre- and post-colonial Nigeria through the life of Okonkwo, a leader in his Igbo community who falls from power after his involvement in a murder and is exiled from his village, only to return to find European missionaries have arrived with disastrous consequences. Things Fall Apart was made into a movie in 1970 and a miniseries in 1987, so a new adaptation is well and truly due.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here.

Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

11.In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor

Perhaps because her name is the same as an actor and much more famous person, Elizabeth Taylor is an author who seems to be often overlooked. While a few of her novels have been adapted for the screen, In a Summer Season hasn't been — and it's frankly perfect for ~prestige~ TV. It's about a widow named Kate Heron who marries a younger man and whose life becomes complicated when her old friend Charles and his daughter come to stay. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here.

Perhaps because her name is the same as an actor and much more famous person, Elizabeth Taylor is an author who seems to be often overlooked. While a few of her novels have been adapted for the screen, In a Summer Season hasn't been — and it's frankly perfect for ~prestige~ TV. It's about a widow named Kate Heron who marries a younger man and whose life becomes complicated when her old friend Charles and his daughter come to stay.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here.

Hachette / Via hachette.com.au

12.The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi

Starting in the late 1800s, and unfolding over several decades and a changing historical backdrop, this would be perfect for an expansive adaptation. The Waiting Years is about the lives and loves (and heartaches) of an upper-class family in Japan, focusing primarily on Tomo, the matriarch who finds a concubine for her husband — one that becomes the first of many.Get it from Bookshop.

Starting in the late 1800s, and unfolding over several decades and a changing historical backdrop, this would be perfect for an expansive adaptation. The Waiting Years is about the lives and loves (and heartaches) of an upper-class family in Japan, focusing primarily on Tomo, the matriarch who finds a concubine for her husband — one that becomes the first of many.

Get it from Bookshop.

Penguin Random House / Via penguin.com.au

13.Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Perhaps because of the genre she wrote in — historical romance, which she basically single-handedly created in the context of modern romance fiction — Georgette Heyer is not really considered a

Perhaps because of the genre she wrote in — historical romance, which she basically single-handedly created in the context of modern romance fiction — Georgette Heyer is not really considered a "classic" author, but her prolific body of work remains well-loved today, if not well-adapted. Venetia is one of her most popular books, about the sparks that fly in the will-they, won't-they romance of a young woman named Venetia and the rakish Lord Damerel. It's all very Austen, actually.

Get it from Bookshop.

Penguin Random House / Via penguin.co.uk

14.The Harp in the South by Ruth Park

Set in the slums of Sydney in the 1930s, The Harp in the South tells the story of the Darcy family, who are poor Catholic Irish Australians, and the colorful cast of characters that are their neighbors. It's brutal at times, but also has an underlying warmth. While it's been adapted into a few TV series, there hasn't been a new version since the 1980s, and it would make a great period drama now.Get it from Bookshop.

Set in the slums of Sydney in the 1930s, The Harp in the South tells the story of the Darcy family, who are poor Catholic Irish Australians, and the colorful cast of characters that are their neighbors. It's brutal at times, but also has an underlying warmth. While it's been adapted into a few TV series, there hasn't been a new version since the 1980s, and it would make a great period drama now.

Get it from Bookshop.

Penguin Random House / Via penguin.com.au

What classic book would you love to see adapted?