I’ve been adapting “The L-Shaped Room”, the best-selling novel by Lynne Reid Banks which tells the story of a young woman who becomes pregnant and goes to ground in a shabby boarding house in darkest Fulham – it’s set in the late 50s when Fulham was still a slum. Though it was made into a terrific black-and-white film starring Leslie Caron, the BBC want to bring it to a new audience so I’ve been immersed in that dingy period of illicit abortions, draughty rooms with lino on the floor and stockings drying in front of gas fires…a period I remember from my distant past but which now seems like another century. Hang on, it was.
There are several other possible adaptations in the air – “A Suitable Boy”, the vast and wonderful novel by Vikram Seth; “the Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists”, that much-neglected classic tract, filled with rage and bitter humour, about a bunch of workmen who are doing up a house for their crooked boss. Then there’s a possible drama about Sigmund Freud and Dora, another one about the Crimean War, another about Dunkirk, yet another possible serial about the bachelor girls between the two wars…lots of things but as none of them have yet got the go-ahead.
Meanwhile “The Diary of Anne Frank” is being aired in the USA in April, and the film of “These Foolish Things”, now titled “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is due to start shooting in India in February, starring Maggie Smith, Peter O’Toole, Penelope Wilton, Joanna Lumley and Dev Patel….It’s adapted (not by myself) from the novel I wrote about outsourcing the elderly to India, a possibility that becomes more and more likely as the years pass – after all, who wants to spend their dotage stuck in an old people’s home in cold and rainy Britain?
I’d love to write something about Palestine – see the previous News entry – but can’t think of what form to write it in. My trip to Ghana, however, has resulted in a short story which has been included in a selection called “Because I’m A Girl” which will be published in the spring, and several of us authors will be talking about it at the Bath Literature Festival in March. The charity Plan International sent us to various countries where we travelled around, talking to young women about their lives and turning their experiences into fiction.
Do email me if you fancy, at email@example.com, and meanwhile have a very happy Christmas and new year.