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  • Fiction to Film
  • War Fiction
  • Foodie Fiction
  • Holocaust Literature 
  •                                                                    readersguide

    Fiction to Film

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    Girl with a Pearl Earrings by Tracy Chevalier

    Griet is a young servant girl who goes to live and work for the family of the painter Vermeer in Delft.  Griet becomes interested in Vermeer’s work and she secretly works for him mixing paints.  Eventually she poses for him wearing the pearl earring of the title.  This causes much tension in the family, culminating in Catharina (Vermeer’s wife) discovering Vermeer’s painting of Griet.
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    The Hours by Michael Cunningham

    This novel intertwines the stories of three women.  The novel is centred on one day in the lives of the novelist Virginia Woolf, who is struggling to start a new novel, Laura who feels out of her depth in her own busy life and Clarissa a book editor who is organizing a party for a dying friend.  The stories are separate, spanning the 1920s, the 1940s and the present day, but they are all linked to the Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway.
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    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Berniere

    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is set on the island of Cephalonia during World War II.  It tells the love story of the Italian Captain Corelli and Pelagia the daughter of the local doctor. Fictional love stories are always complicated and this one is no exception, since Pelagia is already engaged to someone else and the wartime setting brings its own tensions and problems for the lovers.
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    Chocolat by Joanne Harris

    Chocolat is the quirky story of Vianne and Anouk (not forgetting the imaginary Pantoufle) who come to the small French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, to set up a chocolate shop.  The chocolate shop proves problematic for the villagers as opens during Lent and it’s tempting chocolates makes their fasting more difficult to endure.  Fr. Reynaud is the main opponent of the shop and as Easter approaches so too does Vianne’s chocolate festival and tensions rise in the little village . . .
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    Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

    The memorable character of Hannibal Lector, the clever psychopath called ‘The Cannibal’ who plays a game of ‘Clue’ with FBI agent Clarice Stirling as she strives to capture a serial killer, before he can strike again.
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    About a Boy by Nick Hornby

    For free spirit Will Lightman, life is picnic.  He lives off his father’s song royalties, has no ties (and doesn’t want any) and his main concern in life is maintaining his ability to be cool.  As his friends are getting into relationships, marriage and kids Will becomes increasingly isolated. Will joins single parents groups so as to meet women who he presumes will not want serious relationships.  When Will meets 12-year-old Marcus, with his problem filled life, he ends up, despite himself becoming a surrogate father and friend to him.
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    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    This is a story of friendship, betrayal and redemption.  It is set against the backdrop of political unrest in Afghanistan in the 1970s.  Amir wants to win the local Kite fighting competition and his loyal friend Hassan has promised to help him win.  On the day of the competition, something happens, which leaves Hassan betrayed by his friend.  Amir and his father flee to America.  Amir returns to Afghanistan as an adult, consumed with guilt, he tries to help Hassan’s family.
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    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

    Ken Kesey’s modern classic tells the story of the lives of patients in a mental institution.  Narrated by Chief Bromden who is said to be mute and deaf, the book deals with the ongoing battles between Big Nurse-Nurse Ratched and inmate Randle McMurphy, it is sometimes a sad, but also an extremely funny read.
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    Atonement by Ian McEwan

    Set in between the two World Wars, Atonement is the story of misunderstandings, between thirteen-year old Briony and her sister Cecelia and Robbie their housekeeper’s son. When Briony witnesses a flirtation between the other two, her fertile imagination, coupled with her inability to understand adult behaviour, leads her to perceive a wrong doing to her sister, a misperception which has life-long consequences for all those around her.
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    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

    As the Second World War draws to a close, four people are holed up in an Italian Villa.  Hana is nursing the enigmatic, burnt English Patient, Kip the Sapper, who is attempting to dismantle a bomb and Caravaggio the maimed thief are all linked to the mysterious English Patient, as they try to unravel his memories of a doomed love affair in the desert, and figure out his identity.
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    Brokeback Mountain from the novel Close Range by Annie Proulx

    Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are two cowboys in Wyoming, two ranch hands with few prospects in life.  This novella depicts their relationship over twenty years, as they move from workmates to lovers and their inability to cope with their homosexuality amid the macho environment of Brokeback Mountain.
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    War Fiction

    Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

    Regeneration, the Eye in the Door and the Ghost Road make up Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy.  Real and fictional characters mingle in these novels which are based on the experiences of British soldiers being treated for shell-shock in a Scottish hospital during World War 1.  Madness, homosexuality and the physical horror of war are among the themes of the trilogy.
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    Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

    Birdsong recounts the war-time experiences of Stephen Wraysford in the trenches of World War 1.  A doomed love affair conducted in France, provides the material for the main story but  it is the backdrop, the world of the war itself, in the descriptions of the trenches, the mud and gore, the sheer awfulness of war that is so vividly described, that makes the novel so memorable.
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    Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

    Suite Francaise consists of two novellas, completed before the author died in Auschwitz in 1942.  She had in fact planned a series of five novellas in total but never got to complete them.  The novellas are set in France during the Nazi occupation, the first story tells of a group of Parisians fleeing the occupation and the second deals with a small country French village during the war.
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    Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

    Kurt Vonnegut’s war-time classic portrays the life and times of one Billy Pilgrim from his abduction to the planet Tralfamadore to his horror-filled experience of the bombing of Dresden, based on the authors own experiences as a prisoner of war.  Absurd, funny and highly imaginative, Slaughterhouse 5 is a must read for anyone interested in effects of war on the human condition.
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    Foodie Fiction

    The Food of Love by Anthony Capella

    Laura is a art history student who is living in Rome, where she meets the handsome Tomasso and his friend Bruno.  Tomasso pretends he can cook so as to seduce Laura, but it is the shy Bruno who cooks the meal and falls in love with Laura.   The descriptions of the sumptuous food and the beautiful city of Rome combine to make this frothy novel, Foodie Fiction at its best. 
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    Like Water for Chocolate

    Tita cannot marry Pedro since she has to care for her mother until she dies according to Mexican tradition. Pedro marries her sister in order to be close to Tita.  Heartbroken, Tita pours all her emotions into her cookery, concocting some rather fantastic food with magical results!
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    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

    Fried Green Tomatoes tells the story of two sets of friendship.  Ninny Threadgoode befriends the bored middle-aged Evelyn and tells her the story of Idgie and her friend Ruth who ran the Whistle Stop Café when she was a girl.
    Ruth and Idgie’s eventful tale of food, love and murder, emboldens Evelyn to change her own life. 
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    The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

    Tarquin introduces the reader into a sensual world of epicurean delights, which masks a darker world full of murder and intrigue, as he reveals his rather macabre life.
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    Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

    The Aminpour sisters flee Iran and set up the Babylon Café in the tiny Irish village of Ballinacroagh.  The exotic Persian aromas that waft through the village seem to have a magical effect on most of the villagers although some have their doubts.  This warm-hearted novel is full of food, fun and romance.
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    Holocaust Literature

    This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski

    Borowski’s collection of stories are based on his own his experiences of life in Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps.  He writes of being complicit in other prisoner’s deaths as a means of ensuring one’s own survival and the ensuing guilt that this brings.
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    If this is a Man/The Truce by Primo Levi

    Primo Levi was arrested as a member of the anti-fascist resistance during WW2 and was deported to Auschwitz.  This is Levi’s account of his time in Auschwitz (If this is a Man) and The Truce deals with his return to Italy after his liberation.
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    Night by Elie Wiesel

    Elie Wiesel was born in Romania but was deported to Auschwitz, where he spent some of his childhood before being sent to Buchenwald.  His experiences of both camps are recorded here in Night.  These memoirs are plainly written from a child’s clear and perceptive view point.
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    One Generation After by Elie Wiesel

    This book was published marking the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, in it Wiesel returns to his boyhood village to retrieve his bar mitzvah watch he buried before he left for Auschwitz.
    The author writes that he is trying to re-evaluate his life since the war and wonders if all that has been written about the horrors of the Holocaust has made any impact on the present as humans still wage war on one another.
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