Laurie R. King Virtual Book Club discussion

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message 1: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (lavender13) | 2 comments Am I the only one who wishes they made some movies out of the Mary Russell books?!


message 2: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Double-edge sword, I think? It would be amazing to see Russell on the screen, but you never know how the movie/tv people will interpret the books. If they were made like the Phryne Fisher series, I would be over the moon. But there's always the possibility that they will be completely off the mark, so it feel like something of a gamble.


message 3: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Olivia wrote: "Am I the only one who wishes they made some movies out of the Mary Russell books?!"

Olivia, I don't know any details but I do know that "Beekeeper's Apprentice" has been optioned by a TV company. So, we can hope for a quality production! But when, who knows.


message 4: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (lavender13) | 2 comments Oh that would be very exciting if they could write it right.


message 5: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Olivia wrote: "Oh that would be very exciting if they could write it right."

I agree - and cast it right, also!


message 6: by Sara (new)

Sara | 30 comments Merrily wrote: "Olivia wrote: "Oh that would be very exciting if they could write it right."

I agree - and cast it right, also!"


Casting is everything, along with the script and direction. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is an example of a book being turned into a visual medium in the right way. Maybe lightning can strike twice?


message 7: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Adaptions are loads better recently than they were even a few years ago. I think it's that they're embracing the idea of plot arcs across a season, rather than single episode. Some stories work fine as single episode, but so many of the adaptations lend themselves better to mini-series. Outlander doing one whole season per book, for example, worked wonderfully.


message 8: by Kim (last edited Aug 10, 2018 06:43AM) (new)

Kim | 6 comments I agree, a tv series/mini-series would work best. You have a lot more screen time to do the books justice, since with a movie you only get 2 to 3 hours, max. In no way is 2-3 hours enough time to do Beekeeper's Apprentice right, much less the rest of the series.

As for how the books would lay out across several series, I've thought about this a lot, trying to figure out how it might work best, depending on there being 8-12 episodes per season/series. This is a rough layout, so feel free to discuss and come up with different interpretations:

Season/Series One: Events of Beekeeper's Apprentice up to the point where Russell and Holmes either leave for Jerusalem or arrive there (maybe ending it with their first being brought to Ali and Mahmoud and them looking appropriately terrifying for a cliffhanger).
Season/Series Two: The events of O Jerusalem through the first half, followed by finishing up the events of Beekeeper's Apprentice.
Season/Series Three: The events of Monstrous Regiment and The Marriage of Mary Russell.
Season/Series Four: The events of A Letter of Mary and maybe The Moor. I think those two might be able to work as one season/series. Thoughts?
Season/Series Five: The events of Justice Hall. This book could definitely cover an entire season/series, particularly if they use flashbacks to illustrate the life/death of Gabriel Hughenfort and other aspects of the Hughenforts' lives.
Season/Series Six: The Game.
Season/Series Seven: Locked Rooms. I'm not sure if it would be best to work Russell and Holmes' visit to Japan from Dreaming Spies in somewhere with these two seasons or not. Thoughts?
Season/Series Eight: Language of Bees and God of the Hive. The books were already a two-parter, and I think it's probably conceivable that they could be meshed into one overall arc. Yes? No?
Season/Series Nine: Pirate King and Garment of Shadows. Also, if the first part of Dreaming Spies is shown in the earlier seasons, we could probably fit the last part that takes place in England into this season as well.
Season/Series Ten: The Murder of Mary Russell. Given that this is primarily Mrs. Hudson's story, show writers/producers might adapt it to further include Russell, since she's the title character of the whole series. Maybe show more of how she got up to London with a body in the boot of her car, and working with Mycroft to deal with the situation (though I know in the book Mycroft had his agents deal with the matter while Russell was seen to by a doctor, but that could be adapted)? Not to mention give Holmes more of a plot line in the midst of Mrs. Hudson's storyline as he's making his way home to the chaos waiting for him.
Season/Series Eleven: Island of the Mad.

Again, this is all very open to adjusting/interpretation. Thoughts?


message 9: by Sara (new)

Sara | 30 comments Very interesting. I like your pacing. I think it would be best to insert Dreaming Spies where it falls with publication date - before the MoMR and after GoS. You have to anchor the book in the story line when the action begins, not when the bulk of the story takes place. Flashbacks are easier to explain. What a wonderful series this would be, if the right actors could be found for Holmes and Russell!


message 10: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "I agree, a tv series/mini-series would work best. You have a lot more screen time to do the books justice, since with a movie you only get 2 to 3 hours, max. In no way is 2-3 hours enough time to d..."

Kim, a well-thought-out lineup that addresses some of the structural issues a film company would face in "doing" the books. I wonder if a "showrunner" would want to include Pirate King in the series - to me it's a fun book, but so out of tone with the rest of the series. Perhaps it could be a one-of special, rather like those humorous episodes that used to turn up during "The X Files."


message 11: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6 comments Sara wrote: "Very interesting. I like your pacing. I think it would be best to insert Dreaming Spies where it falls with publication date - before the MoMR and after GoS. You have to anchor the book in the stor..."

Ah, so just have the basics of the Japan stopover told in flashbacks, and getting on with the 'present' storyline in England. Makes total sense. :)


message 12: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6 comments Merrily wrote: "Kim wrote: "I agree, a tv series/mini-series would work best. You have a lot more screen time to do the books justice, since with a movie you only get 2 to 3 hours, max. In no way is 2-3 hours enou..."

Heh, that works! The events of Pirate King can be the holiday special that leads them into Season Nine with Garment of Shadows, explaining why they're in Africa and so on. :D


message 13: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Merrily wrote: "Kim wrote: "I agree, a tv series/mini-series would work best. You have a lot more screen time to do the books justice, since with a movie you only get 2 to 3 hours, max. In no way i..."

Kim, brilliant!


message 14: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 176 comments Kim, you have put a lot of effort into planning how the books could be made into a TV series. My one thought would be that O Jerusalem came out later for a reason. Inserting it into Beekeeper’s Apprentice could be jarring because it has a lot more hints of the romantic/sexual connection to come that we already know about because of the intervening books. Think of the dinner in the American quarter.
That said, to me the crucial factor would be casting. Would the same actress play 15 year old Russell and 25 year old Russell. Would the 39 year age gap exist? Very hard to get the right chemistry and avoid creepiness. I suspend disbelief for the series but in any other context I think I would find that age gap and the attraction starting when she was 15 quite off-putting.


message 15: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6 comments Cathy wrote: "Kim, you have put a lot of effort into planning how the books could be made into a TV series. My one thought would be that O Jerusalem came out later for a reason. Inserting it into Beekeeper’s App..."

You make a good point about O Jerusalem, Cathy. I was actually thinking about that later on after the initial posting. Perhaps O Jerusalem could be a holiday special, like Merrily suggested for Pirate King. Though it would have to be a long one, perhaps a two-hour special, since there is *so much* going on in that book. But you're right, it would be jarring to insert it, for the romantic/sexual tension, and also for the fact that Russell and Holmes are dealing with Patricia Donleavy, and suddenly that gets interrupted for this whole unrelated adventure in Jerusalem. That might be too much for the casual viewer. Book readers would know what's going on, of course, but someone who hasn't read them would be confused by the sudden switch in situations.

Perhaps it would be better to keep O Jerusalem in its publication order and have it air as a holiday special just before the season featuring Justice Hall. Those two books were published back to back so as to introduce Ali and Mahmoud, and it would work very well in a television format as well.

As for casting, I could go either way on there being two different women playing Russell, one for the events of Beekeeper's Apprentice (and O Jerusalem, for that matter), and one for the rest of the series, to having just one actress for the entire series. I mean, there is a 3-year gap between Beekeeper's Apprentice and Monstrous Regiment, and while that doesn't mean much in today's world (actresses can easily be made to look far younger than they actually are through makeup and CGI if needed), having two different actresses could help avoid the creep factor for a lot of viewers.

And as for the age difference, I imagine it would probably played down a lot. Likely Holmes would get de-aged a little. He even mentions it in BEEK that he was far younger than Watson and Doyle's stories made him sound, so it's not out of the realm of possibility. :)


message 16: by Tara (new)

Tara | 54 comments Sooo this thread is six months old, but I found it when looking through this site, and I have opinions, and where else can you submit them but the void which is the internet?

Kim, I agree with your general idea of one season/book. I also like the flexibility of tv shows now to really use the time needed to tell a story, whether that is consistent from story to story or not. Cathy, I also agree that for a more generalized tv audience, the age gap would be a problem for many people. (Then again, GoT made the whole world cheer for an incestuous relationship-John Snow and Dany-so anything is possible....)

It would be easy enough to cast Holmes down a hair, maybe cast someone in their 50’s instead of early 60’s, and I’m assuming for Russell they’d want someone at least 18 simply due to the ease of casting legal adults. If one WERE to cast two different people, if anything I’d switch actresses between the first meeting of Beekeeper’s and later on in Beekeeper’s, 15 to 18. From BEEK to MREG there’s actually not that much of an age gap…BEEK ends in the spring of her being 19, and picks up again a few weeks before she turns 21, so less than two years. Overall, though, I don't think it's necessary.

I think the easier way to solve this problem is to reeeeaaaally ease the audience into the idea. How? You have quite a few seasons before MREG. You start with BEEK, and then go for OJER. I think they should be separated because you’d lose the momentum on the Donlevy case. But, all in all, OJER is closest in tone to BEEK because it’s an adventure and it’s prior to their marriage and it thrusts Russell back into an apprentice zone due to her lack of familiarity with the culture and landscape, and by the end, she finds her feet. It is, I believe, a retelling of BEEK in a much more exotic location.

After OJER, I think jumping next into MREG would be a mistake. It works in the books because LRK does a fabulous job of world building with what she DOESN’T tell us. This, I think, would be jarring on the screen. I think you need to have at least one, if not two, seasons, showing their relationship grow. Show how difficult it is starting to be for them to work together. Have the audience draw the same conclusion as Russell does that a marriage of convenience would be just the thing. With what books? Well, I personally would love to see an expansion on Damien’s story. I think as a character he’s really underdeveloped and there is so much potential there. LETT would also lend itself well to being place before MREG…yes, it has a lot of carefully constructed moments of their newly married life, but those could easily be transferred to later episodes. The fact that it takes place in London, that it has Mycroft and Lestrade as recurrent characters, and the fact that it deals with Russell’s newly blossoming sexuality would actually lend it well to a pre-marital rewriting, IMO.

By saving the romantic aspects for a 4th or 5th season, I think you have time for a more widespread audience to get used to the idea. Everyone I’ve gotten to read BEEK has loved it, but a decent half shuddered when the realized their relationship shifted away from platonic after the second. I even actually advise most people new to the series read OJER second. Finally, Russell goes through the most character growth when she's younger, which would be easier to anchor a multi-season story on.

Ok I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this.


message 17: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "Sooo this thread is six months old, but I found it when looking through this site, and I have opinions, and where else can you submit them but the void which is the internet?

Kim, I agree with you..."


All interesting and good ideas, Tara! The other thing they could do would be to put more emphasis on the WWI setting for BEEK, because it's a fact that after the War, it wasn't at all unusual for young women to marry much older men, as so many young men were either gone or ruined for life in one way or another. The age difference between Holmes and Russell has never bothered me, of course, but I know it does some people - despite the fact that there are many happy May/September marriages out there in the real world.


message 18: by Tara (new)

Tara | 54 comments More historical context is always helpful, I agree! I would love to see more about the war, and I have a feeling LRK would not mind, as much research as she does.


message 19: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "More historical context is always helpful, I agree! I would love to see more about the war, and I have a feeling LRK would not mind, as much research as she does."

I agree!


message 20: by Emily (last edited Jan 09, 2019 10:16AM) (new)

Emily | 341 comments It's not like we're not used to seeing young women with substantially older men onscreen. LRK can't make Holmes any younger due to the Conan Doyle timeline, but that would be less familiar (and therefore not really an issue) to a TV/movie audience, I think. I'd guess they'd just narrow the gap a bit at both ends and leave us with the more-or-less standard 20-25 year age gap we often see.
That said, I wasn't entirely thrilled when the series turned romantic, the first time I read it, though I've gotten over it.


message 21: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Emily wrote: "It's not like we're not used to seeing young women with substantially older men onscreen. LRK can't make Holmes any younger due to the Conan Doyle timeline, but that would be less familiar (and the..."

Laurie already trimmed a bit off Holmes' age as usually stated, although I think she's right in the way she read the Doyle timeline - I think she has him born about eight years later than the usual Holmesian dates.
I was surprised when the series turned romantic, mainly because I'd thought I'd detected those vibes in BEEK and thought "no, I must be reading my own crush on Holmes into it" - but then I was delighted!


message 22: by Judith (new)

Judith (jlnn) | 3 comments I'm going to throw my two cents in here about doing the Mary Russell/Sherlock books as a series. I think the best way to do the books justice would be to do adaptations of each book in maybe 3 to 4 part episodes at 2 hours per episode (similar to the ones you see on Public Television from the BBC). I also think that BBC would be the best choice for producing them as the stories have roots in Britain and they have a great track record with adaptations. The casts need to be selected carefully and they need not necessarily be famous actors. These books are too good to be recklessly produced. I believe that Erin is smart to mention the Phryne Fisher series as an example. Just my opinion :)


message 23: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Judith wrote: "I'm going to throw my two cents in here about doing the Mary Russell/Sherlock books as a series. I think the best way to do the books justice would be to do adaptations of each book in maybe 3 to 4..."

I totally agree about the BBC, Judith, they are impeccable when it comes to historical productions. Although I wouldn't necessarily agree with Erin re the Phryne Fisher series - although I enjoyed the series, it goes quite far afield from the books, and the actress playing Phryne, while good, is about twice the age of the Phryne in the books (who is Russell's age, born in 1900, so in the books she's in her early 20's).


message 24: by Tara (new)

Tara | 54 comments Isn't it BBC that bought the rights? Does anyone know if it just BEEK, or the entire series?

I agree that Phryne Fisher was well done as far as attention to historical detail. That show is beautiful. I also like that that cast Phryne older, if it was simply because she was so good at playing the part, as it's often hard for women after their "Hollywood prime" to get lead roles, and I think she nails it. That said, I'm not sure if they were looking for someone in their twenties and got her and said "screw it, she's great!" or if they were specifically looking to cast Phryne earlier from the get go. That said, I've never read the series, so had no emotional attachment to the character, and I would be FURIOUS if they had a Russell in her mid-late twenties from the get-go, which would be a really easy decision for them to make.

What I don't like about the Phryne Fisher show is that it appears they attempt to stuff an entire novel in an hour (???) long episode. The stories end up feeling rushed and superficial. Luckily, especially with streaming services, it's become much more popular to have slower, more drawn out adaptations and original shows. I agree with you, Judith, a format of a few episodes per book that are between 90-120 minutes would be great!


message 25: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "Isn't it BBC that bought the rights? Does anyone know if it just BEEK, or the entire series?

I agree that Phryne Fisher was well done as far as attention to historical detail. That show is beauti..."


Tara, I agree that the Phryne Fisher show is beautiful (the Clothes!). The lead actress is, I believe, a Big Name in Australia and I'm sure they cast her because that would help attract an audience. I enjoyed the series but, as you indicated, if you'd read the books you know they are a good deal more complex, and many things were changed for television (for instance, in the books there is no attraction/romance between Phryne and Jack Robinson - in fact he's a happily married man). So, much as I enjoyed the series I would not want to see BEEK or any of the other books handled in the same way. And yes, it is the BBC that has bought the rights, I believe.


message 26: by Tara (last edited Jan 12, 2019 06:31PM) (new)

Tara | 54 comments *phew* Yay for BBC!

I didn't know she was such a big deal in Australia, I'm a little less enthusiastic about the choice now...and tbh, I lost interest after a few episodes because they fell so rushed and therefore, flat. I hope Beekeeper's doesn't feel the same, and instead gets more people interested in the stories at the books. As I've said before, Mary Russell is great role model, especially for girls, and it would be wonderful to have her as a character reach a wider audience.

The thing I'm worried about getting lost in translation the most is Russell's voice; since the books are primarily written in first person, her personality really shines through on every single page. I felt like I knew who she was based on her voice alone in the first paragraph (and the fact that I started the series as a teen myself). If the show were to start out the same way, with a girl dressed as a boy, reading and wandering, there's nothing to distinguish her from Elizabeth Bennett or Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Yes, historical women reading is a great way to show they are independent and can think for themselves, but there's a lot more to Russell than that. Yes, voiceovers can help but in film, but that's generally seen as sloppy. In books, you only have words, but in film, you have so much more at your disposal to tell a story...framing, color, sound, editing, music, etc...I truly hope that whomever takes this project on has keeping Russell's personality and journey at the forefront of their storytelling. These are Russell's stories, after all.


message 27: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "*phew* Yay for BBC!

I didn't know she was such a big deal in Australia, I'm a little less enthusiastic about the choice now...and tbh, I lost interest after a few episodes because they fell so ru..."


Well said, Tara. I think all we can do is trust that if this goes ahead, the BBC has the experience and the class to do it right!


message 28: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "Yes, voiceovers can help but in film, but that's generally seen as sloppy.."

I don't know about that. That's a major device in Call the Midwife, and everyone LOVES that show. I could totally see and older Russell as a narrator, like in CtM, working great.


message 29: by Emily (new)

Emily | 341 comments I love Call the Midwife, but I'm not sure the voiceover is always the most effective part of the show.


message 30: by Erin (new)

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "I would be FURIOUS if they had a Russell in her mid-late twenties from the get-go, which would be a really easy decision for them to make."

Eh, I think they could easily get someone in their early to mid twenties who can look a range of ages. Makeup is magic on tv.

I've been watching Supergirl lately and have really been liking the lead actress, Melissa Benoist and looked her up and fell down that rabbit hole. She was on Glee before Supergirl, playing a 15 year old. She seriously looked like she was about 12 on that show and she was like 24 at the time. She definitely has one of those really young faces, and helped along by wardrobe and makeup its really hard to guess her age.

And for that matter, have you seen what they've done with Outlander? The main characters age 20+ years between season 3 and 4! And it's still the same actors, just with creative makeup and costume.

So yeah, I think I'd be bummed if they aged Russell's character for film because so much of her story is formative experience, but I think they could definitely find someone who could play her range of ages pretty easily.


message 31: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Erin wrote: "Tara wrote: "I would be FURIOUS if they had a Russell in her mid-late twenties from the get-go, which would be a really easy decision for them to make."

Eh, I think they could easily get someone i..."


I agree, Erin, the leap between 15 and 25 is not really that great. I have a friend who often jokes about all the "high school" programs that are TV with actors who are like, 30.


message 32: by Tara (new)

Tara | 54 comments Voiceover can be powerful and effective, but I would just hope it's not the ONLY way they try to carry over her personality, because the books are narrated by her and therefore we get her voice constantly. It would have to be used sparingly, and they need to have other methods to adapt the story well.

And yes, good clarification, I'd be furious if they changed the character's age, or didn't put in the effort to make her really feel like a teenager. Although 20-somethings playing teens on tv for so many years has certainly confused most people's expectations of what a teenager actually looks like!

I don't know if any of you are on facebook, but there's a trend right now of "show your first vs your current Facebook profile pic to see how you've aged." And most of my friends, who started Facebook in their teens are are now ~30, look the same, myself included. It's mostly how we dress, do our hair, and carry ourselves. So a good, dedicated actress would be able to pull it off.

Great example: Carey Mulligan in An Education, where a high school student has a relationship with an older man. Some of the scenes are her in school, and some have her in a nice dress with her hair done up, trying to fit into his world...she looks like she aged nearly two decades!


message 33: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "Voiceover can be powerful and effective, but I would just hope it's not the ONLY way they try to carry over her personality, because the books are narrated by her and therefore we get her voice con..."

Tara, I think for most of us there is a "golden period" where we look a good deal younger than we really are. I remember being frustrated when I first started working (in a university library) because people would think I was a student rather than a librarian! That does end, but most young women who would be cast as Russell are still "there," I think!


message 34: by Tara (new)

Tara | 54 comments Lol I've definitely had a lot of people ask me "are you even old enough to be doing this?" at work.

My answers have ranged from "Yes." to "I'm told I'll miss that question one day...." to "old enough to go to school for eight years" to "Not sure, let's find out." (this last goes over particularly well if I'm about to extract a patient's tooth!)


message 35: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "Lol I've definitely had a lot of people ask me "are you even old enough to be doing this?" at work.

My answers have ranged from "Yes." to "I'm told I'll miss that question one day...." to "old en..."


Laughing, Tara, because it's true that one day they stop asking and then you do miss it! I think the last time I was carded I was in my 30's, though, so you have awhile to go yet!


message 36: by Dena (new)

Dena | 84 comments Erin wrote: "Tara wrote: "Yes, voiceovers can help but in film, but that's generally seen as sloppy.."

I don't know about that. That's a major device in Call the Midwife, and everyone LOVES that show. I could ..."

The only voiceovers I remember in Call the Midwife are at the start & end of the show. I love listening to Vanessa Redgrave read so beautifully. Outlander used voiceovers much more, especially in season one (I haven't see season 4) and I think there were some complaints but it is a way to quickly get through some of the story.


message 37: by Tara (new)

Tara | 54 comments You what show did voiceovers really well? The Handmaid's Tale. The book is filled with very scripted, biblical language, and that's it. The show early on add's Offred's thoughts in voiceover to show that even though with her words and body language she's complying with the system, inside she's piiiiiiissed. It was a brilliant way to modernize and characterize the main character. It also particularly worked well in that show because the language Offred used in her head, which included slang and cursing, was in such contrast to the lines she had to say outloud over and over, such as "blessed day!"


message 38: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Tara wrote: "You what show did voiceovers really well? The Handmaid's Tale. The book is filled with very scripted, biblical language, and that's it. The show early on add's Offred's thoughts in voiceover to sho..."

Good example, Tara. That's a great show. I'm really wondering where they're going in Season 3 since Offred seems poised to lead the resistance!


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

I haven’t been on for a while so excuse my butting into a comment made a bit further back, but as a BBC licence payer I am sorry to say that whilst the Beeb has the class it no longer has the money to do a long series. The big American internet businesses are the ones with the money and have done a pretty good/very good job on Outlander and GoT.


message 40: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I haven’t been on for a while so excuse my butting into a comment made a bit further back, but as a BBC licence payer I am sorry to say that whilst the Beeb has the class it no longer has the money..."

Pam, a lot of the older companies are partnering with entities like Amazon and Netflix - perhaps they could form a partnership like that. I know from a friend who works as a scout that the BBC is still asking her to find properties of certain kinds for them, so that's a good sign. I'd be happy if they just did BEEK and did it well.


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