‘A Thousand Ships’ by Natalie Haynes
I recently read Natalie Haynes’ A Thousand Ships, a retelling of the events of the Trojan War from the perspectives of the women involved, and I think it would make an amazing movie, or even better, a limited series.
While there are hundreds of plays, movies and TV shows that tell the story of the bloody and epic 10-year war, Haynes’ novel gives a voice to all the women, from the sacrificial Iphigenia and the prophetess Cassandra, to Troy’s queen Hecuba and goddesses such as Hera, Aphrodite and Athena. The main narrator is Calliope, muse of epic poetry, and the novel is an answer to Homer’s famous evocation: Sing, Muse, he says, and she sings of women forgotten and ignored.
With so many engaging, unique and fascinating characters and so many stories to tell, I would love to see this book come to life on the screen one day.
‘Nutshell’ by Ian McEwan
‘Nutshell’ is Ian McEwan’s 21st century retelling of ‘Hamlet’, and is a novel narrated by a foetus in the womb. It could make a great audio play: foetus Hamlet spends much of their time trying to make sense of the world by listening to it. Beyond “the laundrette din of [her] stomach and bowels”, Hamlet’s mother, Trudy, can be overheard murderously scheming with her lover Claude.
Unsurprisingly, considering the premise, this is a fun story enjoyably told. McEwan has said it is “is about the communication of pleasure”, and much of that pleasure is in foetus Hamlet’s joyful engagement with language (Claude’s banality is “as finely wrought as the arabesques of the Blue Mosque”, his nakedness “as unstartling as an accountant’s suit”). Less of a creative overhaul than a film adaptation might be, an audio play of Nutshell could be a vivid expansion of the book, rooted in its soundscape and this Hamlet’s irreverent, intelligent narrative voice.