And the nominees are…

The nominees for the Academy awards have been announced for this year. For me the most notable inclusions are “genre” films in the Best Picture category. It’s unusual for genre films to get much love from the Academy in this category (Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King is so far the only fantasy film to ever win Best Picture) so it will be interesting to see if either Guillermo Del Toro‘s fairy tale fantasy (The shape of water) or Jordan Peele‘s modern gothic horror (Get out) will take the out the Oscar. They’re both up against more traditionally “Oscar-worthy” films in this category so it seems unlikely, in my opinion ( but if you’re interested in knowing more, may I direct you to this graph showing how the genre preferences of the Academy for Best Picture stack up)

Oscar nominated movies must have opened in the previous calendar year, which means that some (but not all) of these films are now available in New Zealand. Flicks has a useful list of where and how you can watch the 2018 Oscar-nominated movies locally.

As for the library collection, below are the 2018 Oscar-nominated films available for loan on DVD or with tie-in reading material. See how many you can watch/read ahead of the awards ceremony on Sunday, 4 March (Monday, 5 March here if you’re planning on watching live).

2018 Oscar nominated films available on DVD

Related books and soundtracks

A number of  this year’s nominated films are either based on books or have tie-in titles or soundtracks, so you might want also want to check out:

  Cover of The breadwinner by Deborah Ellis Cover of Call me by your name by Andre Aciman Cover of The disaster artist by Greg Sistero and Tom Bissell Cover of Dunkirk: The history behind the major motion picture by Josh Levine Cover of Molly's game by Molly Bloom Cover of Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Cover of Star Wars the last jedi, the visual dictionary Cover of Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu Cover of Wonder by R. J. Palacio Cover of The world of Kong: A natural history of Skull Island

Find out more:

New Zealand International Film Festival 2017

Today the Christchurch programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival was launched.

Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival screens a range of films. It’s Christchurch’s turn from 3 August to 20 August.

Literary films at the Festival

If you like movies based on books — or want to read the book before you see the movie — there are plenty of films for you at the 2017 Christchurch leg of the NZ International Film Festival. Thanks to the Film Festival organisers for providing us with some of the following information:

CoverA Monster Calls
A story-telling monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) helps a sleeping boy with his waking-life nightmares in this adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel, spectacularly realised with lavish CGI and painterly animations.
Based on the novel A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

A Woman’s Life (Une Vie)
A literary adaptation of a story by Guy de Maupassant styled with striking immediacy, Stéphane Brizé relates the tragedy of an adventurous young 19th-century noblewoman harshly judged for an unfortunate marriage.

Bill Direen: A Memory of Others
A documentary about New Zealand musician Bill Direen.
Find books and music by Bill Direen in our collection.

Call Me By Your Name
This gorgeous and moving adaptation of André Aciman’s acclaimed novel, directed by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love), stars Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet as lovers in sun-kissed northern Italy.
Based on the book Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

CoverCitizen Jane
A documentary capturing the showdown in the 1950s between the activist Jane Jacobs and the trumpian urban planner Robert Moses: as she fights preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects.
Based on The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

CoverEthel and Ernest
This animated adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ graphic memoir of his parents’ lives is both humble and profound, with gorgeous renderings of Briggs’ justly famous lines. Featuring the voices of Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn.
Based on the graphic novel memoir Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs

Heal the Living
A catastrophic accident leaves one family in ruins and bestows another with precious hope in a hospital drama immeasurably enhanced by the delicate sensitivity of Katell Quillévéré’s script and the poetic force of her direction.
Based on Mend the living by Maylis de Kerangal

I Am Not Your Negro
A documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, exploring the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders.

Lady MacBeth
Florence Pugh is mesmerising as she transmutes from nervous bride to femme fatale in this bracing British period drama based on the 19th-century Russian classic by Nikolai Leskov – Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.

CoverThe Lost City of Z
Charlie Hunnam makes a commanding flawed hero as British Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett in a sweeping giant screen epic, filmed with rare intelligence by writer/director James Gray. With Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson.
Based on the novel by David Grann, The Lost City of Z

No Ordinary Sheila
A documentary exploring the life of New Zealand writer Sheila Natusch who has written over 30 books including Animals of New Zealand, The Cruise of Acheron, Hell and High Water and Wild Fare for Wilderness Forager. No Ordinary Sheila is a documentary about her life, times – and places.

CoverStalker
Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 masterpiece, like his earlier Solaris, is a free and allegorical adaptation of a sci-fi novel, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic.
See also the book about the movie Stalker – Zona: A book about a film about a journey to a room by Geoff Dyer.

Swallows and Amazons
Four children (the Swallows) on holiday in the Lake District (UK) sail on their own to an island and start a war with rival children (the Amazons).
Based on the book Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

To Stay Alive: A Method
This Dutch documentary film is based on Michel Houellebecq’s 1991 essay To Stay Alive, about struggling artists, the role of the poet, and mental health problems. It features marginal artists as well as Houellebecq and the rock singer Iggy Pop.
Read books in our collection by Michel Houellebecq

Una
A young woman arrives unexpectedly at an older man’s workplace looking for answers as to their shared past in an abusive sexual relationship.
Based on the play Blackbird by David Harrower

More information

The Dark Tower: A Constant Reader worries

Last week’s release of the trailer for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower movie just about broke the internet, with fevered and passionate discussion about just how right or wrong the director had got things. Widely recognised as the most important of King’s works, The Dark Tower series is a ridiculously huge tale, with nearly 4300 words in eight novels, written over the course of 30 years. Simply put, it’s the story of Roland, the last gunslinger, who is working his way to the Dark Tower to take down the Crimson King. He is pursued by the man in black.

As a longtime Constant Reader, I have spent much of my grown-up life reading and rereading Stephen King novels.  My bookshelves are full of scary clowns, weird alien invasions, alcoholic hotel caretakers and needful things. I own all the books, have seen all the movies, and have definite thoughts on best and worst novels. I’ve downloaded the reading maps, sought out the editorials, and even fallen in love with the works of his son Joe.

Every reader who has a favourite author can feel nervous when books are turned into movies.  And it must be said that King’s movie adaptations can vary wildly in success, from the heady heights of The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me, through the disturbing Misery, to the adorable but kind of dorky 1408, and the downright embarrassing Langoliers.

So you will understand when I say that I am not alone right now in feeling VERY nervous about the upcoming release of two of King’s most well-loved works. The trailer for It was released a few weeks ago, and in less than 3 minutes managed to scare the pants off most of the western world.  I have yet to watch it without covering my eyes every few seconds. And the Dark Tower trailer is mesmerising for different reasons. How can one movie even begin to show us a world that is described not only in the eight Tower books, but also appears in countless other of his tales, from The Talisman, to Insomnia, to Black House, The Stand and The Shining and more.

Cover of Black house Cover of The Stand Cover of The Talisman Cover of The Shining

There’s totally no time to go back and reread the whole series before the movie is out, and King has already told us that this particular story is not one of the original ones from the novels, but another of Roland’s journeys. So all I have to do now is sit, and wait, and like countless other Constant Readers, hope that this movie is at least good, and hopefully great, that Roland Deschain is a true gunslinger and that the man in black is every bit as dreadful and mesmerising as he is in the books.

And try to figure out if I will EVER be brave enough to watch IT.

Further reading

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Want to instantly feel better about being a teen? Be thankful you’re not peculiar…

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-childrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a book was so weirdly compelling it had me from the moment I saw the strange image on the cover – it had to be different from your average vampire romance.

A bestselling story for young adults that appeals to a wide audience, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is based on a fantastical collection of sepia photographs, of children with strange abilities.

Following clues left from his Grandfather’s violent death, Jake becomes linked with the fate of the original and colourful characters that fill a slip of time, hidden on an island. The reader becomes drawn in too, unable to stop reading late into the night. That’s always the sign of a great book.

Leaving room for a couple of sequels in the series, which is up to book 3: The Library of Souls, this first story begins an epic journey of self-discovery and adventure for Jacob and his new friends as they try to escape those who would expose them.

Are ghosts a photograph of time? What is really behind the spooky photographs that are sprinkled through the pages? The really scary thing about this book is that images in the antique pictures seem REAL.

The very exciting news is that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is making the transition to the big screen! It will be in cinemas this week, with a star studded lineup which includes Dame Judi Dench as Miss Avocet.

Before you see it, I urge you to read the book.

If anyone can do this book justice, Tim Burton can? I have high hopes…

Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the red carpet premiere of Taika Waititi’s new film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

The film is based on the 1986 novel Wild pork and watercress by legendary literary kiwi bloke, Barry Crump (though recently his ex-wife has revealed that she had a hand in outlining the story).

So how was the movie, and how does it differ from the book?

Ricky and Uncle Hec, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Ricky and Uncle Hec, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (image supplied)

I found Hunt for the Wilderpeople a delight from beginning to end. It’s a distinctly Kiwi film that features a raft of idiosyncratic characters but which centres on the relationship between an irascible older man and a Māori boy. It’s not so much a film in the vein of “a man alone” as “a man not quite as alone as he’d like to be”.

Needless to say “hijinks ensue”. There are chases, gunplay and eventually grudging respect. If you can imagine a cop “buddy” movie but set in the Ureweras instead of downtown Los Angeles, you’ll start to get an idea of the dynamic and humour. There are also some notable and hilarious cameos.

But it’s not all played for laughs. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Waititi’s films is the way that he reveals the very human vulnerabilities of his characters – whether it’s a neglected Māori boy, a socially awkward couple, or a centuries old vampire – they all have fears, hopes, and insecurities.

In Hunt for the Wilderpeople we slowly get under the skin of taciturn bushman, Uncle Hec (played by the always excellent Sam Neill), and gangsta-wannabe Ricky Baker (played with charm and humour by newcomer Julian Dennison) and we find, despite their obvious differences, that there’s a whole lot of heart and genuine warmth there.

Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker
Julian Dennison as “bad egg”, Ricky Baker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (image supplied)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is probably in my top five movies of the last couple of years and I’m even considering a rewatch (in a cinema – waiting for it to come out on DVD is just too long).

But is it a good adaptation of the novel? Well, it differs a lot from the book and Waititi has gone on record as saying that he wanted to create a film that was “in the spirit” of the novel rather than being a straight adaption.

Cover of Wild pork and watercressUpdating the novel for a modern audience has meant certain changes – cellphones and selfies were certainly not a thing in the eighties when Crump was writing it. In addition the ending of the movie is a tad more upbeat than that of the source novel, and there’s less of a focus on bushcraft and more of a focus on comedy, all of which makes the movie a more enjoyable experience for me than if it had stuck to the straight and narrow.

But if you’re curious, the novel has been rereleased to with a movie tie-in edition and we’ve got copies of this just ripe for your reserves list (as well as a downloadable e-book version).

More information

In our catalogue

Tomorrow is another day

Cover of Gone with the windOne of my favourite books has a poor reputation in some quarters. I read this book in my teens and it contains a story and a character that has stayed with me. Due to this I have decided not to reread it as an adult as I fear I would view it very differently. The book was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Many now think of Gone with the Wind as is a romance which was reinforced by the movie that concentrated on the Rhett Butler/ Ashley Wilkes/ Scarlett O’Hara angle.

The book is actually much darker. In the book you get to access the selfish thoughts and obsessions of Scarlett’s mind. For example the Scarlett O’Hara of the novel refuses Rhett Butler access to her bedroom as she wants to maintain her 17inch waist. She largely ignores the three children she has (one to each husband which is left out of the movie) and fixates on the husband of one of her closest friends. So what is it about this book and more importantly the book’s heroine that stays with me?

When I look back as an adult I can see her as a manipulative, racist, wannabe adulteress who betrays both friends and family. Yet to my teenage self all I could see was a woman who lived through an awful reversal of fortune to become a successful business woman having refused to conform to behavioral restraints. She was a survivor in the face of every opposition. What could be more appealing to a teenage girl or to me even now?

In the end she may or may not have lost the man of her dreams but despite this she picks herself up again and fights on. People may only remember the lines of Rhett Butler at the end of the movie as “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” but I prefer to remember the book where the emphasis is on Scarlett when she stands up and declares “Tomorrow is another day”.

She remains determined despite everything she has endured. The fact she is flawed on so many levels makes her relatable and the fact she remains undefeated makes her inspirational. In all she is not a bad heroine for a teenage girl or a grown woman to have.

Twenty years of Darcy’s wet shirt

Believe it or not, Pride and Prejudice, the BBC television series that introduced us to the charms of Colin Firth, first hit TV screens 20 years ago.

Cover of The complete novels of Jane AustenOriginally airing in the UK between 24 September – 29 October 1995, it’s difficult to overstate just how phenomenally succesful it was. In just six episodes Pride and Prejudice turned Firth into a heart throb and reignited the public’s interest in both Jane Austen’s novels and their adaptations (films of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Emma all came out within a year or so). Austen-mania was at its height.

And let’s not forget that without this television series and it’s massive popularity we would have no Bridget Jones books and movies.

Why was it so ridiculously popular? Much credit must go to the casting. While Firth is considered by many as “the perfect Darcy” – so much so he essentially played the role again in the Bridget Jones films – there are several other performances in the series that come together to make it a stand out.

And so, I humbly offer to you the following list.

The 5 best characters in Pride and Prejudice

  • Darcy. Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy fairly glowers up the place for the first few episodes before revealing his “vulnerability” by diving into a lake and emerging in a clingy linen shirt. Pedants everywhere scoffed that this was “not in the book” but they were rather drowned out by the sound of ladies everywhere squealing and fanning themselves.
  • Elizabeth Bennet. The perfect foil to Darcy’s dark looks and mono-syllables, Jennifer Ehle is all winsome grins, intelligence behind the eyes, and wry amusement while also pulling off the scenes where haughtiness is required with equal skill. Lizzie is a sympathetic character even as you’re desperate to grab her by the shoulders and yell at her to be a bit less stroppy with Darcy. He’s just misunderstood, okay?
  • Mrs Bennet. Alison Steadman’s performance as the mother of the five Bennet sisters is perhaps not a pleasant one but it’s masterful all the same. With a voice that could strip paint from a Regency chaise her plaintive cries of “Mr Bennet!” whenever perceived disaster struck are on a par with Bianca’s screams of “RICKY!” on Eastenders, or that noise that polystyrene makes when you rub it together.
  • Mr Bennet. Dimpled and jocular but mostly in his study reading. When Mr Bennet rolls his eyes, usually after Mrs Bennet has said something ludicrous, you know he really means it. If his wit were any drier it would be a fire risk.
  • Mr Collins. Played by David Bamber, Mr Collins is probably the most pompous, creepy, boorish clergyman in literature. If you don’t feel icky after every scene he’s in you must be made of sterner stuff than I.
  • Lydia Bennet. She’s irritating in that way that teenage girls specialise in. Flirty, flighty and self-obsessed, Lydia is the polar opposite of the other role that Julia Sawalha is famous for, that of bookish, put-upon Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous. With all her declarations of “Oh LORD” and begging to be allowed to go to dances, Lydia is basically the worst. But the best worst.

If all this talk of Pride and Prejudice has got you itching to revisit “Austen-mania” you can rewatch the original or you try one of the many versions, unofficial sequels, reimaginings and books based on the novel –

Cover of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - An annotated editionCover of Pride, Prejudice and popcornCover of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice graphic novelCover of Flirting With Pride & Prejudice Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-lit Masterpiece

What are your Pride and Prejudice memories? Are you similarly shocked that 20 years has passed since it came out?

Guts and Girls and other matters

Cover of GutGut: the inside story of our body’s most underrated organ has apparently taken Europe by storm and it is way up the nonfiction bestseller lists in Spain (as La digestion es la cuestion) and France, where they have paraphrased the title of the Luis Bunuel classic film, calling it Le charme discret de l’intestin. The book was originally German, where it was a huge hit under its original title Darm mit charme  (which translates as Charming bowels ). In Europe this fragrant title has even knocked the Pope off the top three.

Cover of The Girl on the trainAnd what has this to do with girls? It’s all about The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The top fiction in France is La fille du train and in Italy it’s La ragazza del treno  with La chica del tren in Spain. It’s everywhere else as well (way up the list in Britain and the U.S., and presumably if there is life on Mars, it will be up there as well).

The film version will be underway with British Rail soon and Emily Blunt is the girl. Tate Taylor, who directed the adaptation of that other big bestseller The Help is on this one. It is interesting that film rights were sold well before publication of the book, which implies that it was a train that was on schedule from the beginning.

Philip
Fiction selector

Read the book – then see the film

There are a number of interesting literary adaptations coming up. Some are from bestsellers, some from well-reviewed literary novels, and some from novels that may get a second life if the screen adaptation does well.

Cover of Steve JobsAs far as nonfiction goes, timing is everything and often the interest has slackened off by the time the film is released. Will big numbers turn out for a biography of Steve Jobs? A 2013 effort with Ashton Kutcher playing him didn’t make much impact. Now Britain’s Danny Boyle is directing an adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography which may be more likely to succeed with Michael Fassbender as Jobs and a cast that includes Seth Rogen and Kate Winslet.
See IMDb record for Steve Jobs.

Cover of InfernoOn the fiction front it’s hard to get excited by more Virginia Andrews adaptations (made for TV) and the latest Dan Brown adaptation, Inferno, with Tom Hanks out to solve more theological conspiracy theories.
See IMDb record for Inferno.

There are, however, a number of very good fiction books I’ve read and can only hope that these ones translate well to the screen:

Cover of The Yellow BirdsThe excellent 2012 novel The yellow birds by Kevin Powers is a powerful depiction of war with a young veteran of the Iraq conflict who has to deal with what he has experienced. The central character is played by Will Poulter with Benedict Cumberbatch as his sergeant.
See IMDb record for The Yellow Birds.

Cover of Billy Lynn's long halftime walkWar is also the feature of Billy Lynn’s long halftime walk in which the title character is a young soldier who has to endure a victory tour with the soldiers expected to play along. A new name –  Joe Alwyn – plays Billy Lynn with Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker and Steve Martin also cast.
See IMDb record for Billy Lynn’s long halftime walk.

Cover of The revised fundamentals of caregivingThe revised fundamentals of caregiving is Jonathan Evison’s 2012 novel about a father who loses his children and his marriage and enrols in the nightclass of the title and becomes the carer for a boy with muscular dystrophy. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Ehle lead the cast.
See IMDb record for The revised fundamentals of caregiving.

Cover of HHhHLaurent Binet’s HHhH is a grim tale and who better to be doing grim but Rosamund Pike who plays an aristocratic woman who introduces her husband to Nazi ideology. The book, a Prix Goncourt winner in France, deals with the meteoric ascension of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the ‘Final Solution’ who was assassinated by two Resistance paratroopers.
See IMDb record for HHhH.

Cover of The girl with all the giftsM.R. Carey’s The girl with all the gifts is a dystopian tale in which most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection and those left are at the mercy of zombies or “the hungries.” Colm McCarthy, who has directed a lot of recent TV such as Peaky blinders, has a cast that includes Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close. The film title will be titled She who brings gifts.
See IMDb record for She who brings gifts.

Cover of Dan Leno and the Limehouse GolemPeter Ackroyd’s Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem is an interesting tale that came out in 1994 and had Dan Leno, a celebrated music hall comedian in Victorian London, drawn into investigating a murder in the parts of the city. Alan Rickman and Olivia Cooke lead the cast of this intriguing tale which has been simply titled The Limehouse Golem.
See IMDb record for The Limehouse Golem.

Cover of Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar childrenRansom Riggs had a quite original hit with his YA novel Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children, a story about a boy who, after a family tragedy, sets out for a Welsh orphanage. The book was originally intended to be a picture book as the author had collected photographs from various archives. Who better to direct this strange tale than Tim Burton who has an interesting cast including Asa Butterfield as the boy, Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.
See IMDb record for Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children.

Cover of KBOJonathan Smith’s The Churchill secret: KBO is a fascinating fictionalised fact novel about Winston Churchill in the 1950s when he suffered a serious stroke and his wife Clementine and others worked to bring him back to health. Michael Gambon plays Churchill with Lindsay Duncan as his wife. The film title will be called Churchill’s secret.
See IMDb record for Churchill’s secret.

Cover of Alone in BerlinHans Fallada’s novel Alone in Berlin originally appeared in German in 1947 and was later translated and became a bestseller. It is a fictionalised account of the lives of Otto and Elise Hampel whose son dies in France, leading them to mount a campaign against the Nazis. The film version has Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson as the couple and Daniel Bruhl as the German officer trying to track them down.
See IMDb record for Alone in Berlin.

Patricia Highsmith’s novels have been adapted to memorable psychological thrillers on the screen. Her novel Carol was a departure from the mystery genre and the film version with Cate Blanchett should be opening here soon. The latest adaptation of one of her thrillers is The blunderer being retitled for the screen as A kind of murder with Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson.
See IMDb record for A kind of murder.

Cover of A monster callsA monster calls is the Patrick Ness novel that he wrote, based on an idea by author Siobhan Dowd who was dying of cancer and unable to write the book herself. An extraordinary tale that is both dark and touching at the same time, the film, a British/Spanish production has Liam Neeson as the monster, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Geraldine Chaplin with filming done in Spain and Yorkshire.
See IMDb record for A Monster calls.

On the local market the works of Barry Crump are returning to the screen with an adaptation of his 1986 novel Wild pork and watercress. Sadly, the title is now out of print. I contacted the publishers and they said they no longer hold the rights which reverted to the Crump estate. Hoepfully the film, titled Hunt for the Wilderpeople, will be successful enough to get the book back in print. The film, directed by Taika Waititi, has a big local cast including Stan Walker, Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby and Oscar Kightley.
See IMDb record for Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Cover of Me and Earl and the dying girlMe and Earl and the dying girl by Jesse Andrews came about when the author was writing novels for adults that were going nowhere. When it was suggested to him that he might try the teenage market he gave it a go and off it went. The story, about a teenage boy pushed by his mother to befriend a girl with cancer, came out when a certain other novel about a girl with cancer was about to conquer the world. The film was a huge success at the last Sundance Festival and it is about to give John Green a run for his money.
See IMDb record for Me and Earl and the dying girl.

Philip Tew
Selection and Access Team, Content

The power of forgiveness

A few years ago in another job I had the task of cataloguing a collection of about 100 Far East Prisoner of War memoirs. These stories of the terrible hardship suffered by military and civilian prisoners at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Forces during the Second World War were difficult – and humbling – to read, but truly showed how strong the human survival instinct is.

One book that wasn’t part of this collection was Eric Lomax’s The Railway Man. I always wanted to read it, but was hesitant. I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to read another FEPOW story. The other week I watched the recent film adaptation starring Colin Firth. It was a perfectly okay film, yet I knew there must be more in the book.

I requested the book, and am glad I did. Many aspects were familiar to me – capture at Singapore, time in Changi, being moved into the jungle to work on the Burma-Siam railway – but this book was different and not just because of the torture that Lomax endured. The story does not end at the end of the war; it goes on into great detail about the effects of his wartime experiences on his life and ultimately ends with forgiveness and friendship.

It is these aspects that set this book apart and make it a classic. If you’ve only seen the film, do read the book. If you haven’t seen the film, do read the book. But whatever you do be prepared to be appalled, astonished and deeply moved.