Cathleen from Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
If you know anything at all about William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, you likely know that it takes place on a remote island buffeted by supernatural storm. So, the idea of translating this story to a literacy program in a present-day county prison may not be an obvious one.
In Margaret Atwood’s brilliantly envisioned Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, a very specific play is staged both as class project and as personal vendetta for a director once ousted from a prestigious festival. Watching the action unfold in a clever remix of showmanship, we the audience are treated to parallel dramas that are equally riveting in their creativity, humor, and compassion. To paraphrase a line from the original play, “O brave new world, that has such stories in it!”
For more contemporary tales infused with Shakespearean theatricality…
by Tad Williams
In a fantasy sequel to The Tempest, one that also echoes Beauty and the Beast, the hag-seed Caliban takes Prospero’s daughter Miranda captive and insists she listen to his story.
by Emily St. John Mandel
Because they believe that “survival is insufficient,” a traveling Shakespearean troupe brings art to those who remain after a global pandemic destroys civilization as it was once known.
The Gap of Time
by Jeanette Winterson
In the first of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, A Winter’s Tale
is contemporized as the aftermath of the 2008 recession, following flawed but driven characters from London to the American New Bohemia.
The Dead Fathers Club
by Matt Haig
An eleven-year old boy is charged with avenging his father’s death, possibly by his own uncle, in a clever and poignant re-imagining of Hamlet.
Slings & Arrows
Each season of this brilliant Canadian television series showcases the staging of a Shakespeare play that finds its themes oddly paralleled in the current cast’s shenanigans.
The world-building in Embassytown is meticulous yet subtle, and it is a fascinating backdrop for a narrative in which an indecipherable language plays a central role in the dynamic between human colonists and the complicated beings on a distant planet. Complex, graceful, and perhaps perfect for any Arrival fans eager for next-level storytelling.
I would blissfully listen to Kristin Chenoweth sing nearly anything, but the dreamy standards in The Art of Elegance (also available via Hoopla) are especially suited to her vocals. Close your eyes and you’ll see yourself dressed glamorously in a formal cocktail lounge, spellbound by “Someone to Watch Over Me”.
Delight your eyes with a work of wonder! Nearly wordless and enhanced with music, Oscar nominee Boy & the World is a warm, uplifting exploration of childlike discovery. This Brazilian fable dazzles with inventive hand-drawn animation, juxtaposing the realities of life’s hardships with the adventure of youth. Exhilarating and unforgettable.
A farcical comedy-of-errors with rhythms of a crackling stage play, Oscar is the screwball story of “Snaps” Provolone, a top-tier gangster who promises to go straight. Supporting cast Tim Curry, Chazz Palminteri, and Peter Riegert tickle with humor that bounces between droll dialogue and broad slapstick. Ridiculous fun.
Cathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag:
On a winding cobblestone street in Cambridge, there sits an unassuming boutique called A Stitch in Time. It is destined for one special kind of shopper: the woman looking for a lost piece of herself. Whether the customer seeks confidence, courage, beauty, or magnificence, proprietor Etta has a gift for introducing the unique and extraordinary garment to spark the transformation. The one person resistant to this possibility is her granddaughter Cora, a young scientist whose past tragedy has narrowed her gaze only to the potential found in her work.
Menna van Praag’s The Dress Shop of Dreams is an embrace of expectant promise. The gentle spell of interlacing characters, secret attractions, and magic found in simple pleasures will inspire faith in what is truly meant to be.
For more books that blend fantasy indulgences with the promise of personal revelations:
A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff tells the exquisite story of Phoebe Swift, who fulfills a long-cherished dream to open a vintage clothing shop that treasures the history behind each unique garment.
Books appearing just when you need them is only one of the magical realities of Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen, a bewitching and lightly humorous exploration of the courage it takes to change one’s life.
In Chocolat by Joanne Harris, the truth that others may see us more clearly than we see ourselves is flavored with the rewards of taking bold steps forward and lush descriptions of tantalizing delights.
Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani celebrates a young seamstress’s passion for beautiful things and her willingness to break with convention to follow her dreams in glitzy 1950s New York.
In the hopeful Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan, Londoner Rosie Hopkins’ impulsive decision to re-open her elderly relative’s old-fashioned village candy store stirs surprising possibilities in both life and love.
This unlikely frontier love story (based on the biblical story of Hosea, of all things!) has stayed with me for years. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a narrative of unconditional commitment that breaks through terrible brokenness and betrayal to invite real trust. Somewhat controversial, but absolutely rewarding.
A lighthearted seaside getaway turns chilling with the sudden disappearance of a last-minute guest. As the others confront how little they know About Elly, nearly everyone’s casual relationship with truth turns a bad situation worse, intensifying our dread of the story’s reveal. Delicious, provocative storytelling from Oscar-winning auteur Asghar Farhadi.
Few articulate as inspiring a blend of grace and gravitas as the transcendent Maya Angelou. Phenomenal Woman celebrates the steel of femininity via a quartet of elegant yet unadorned poems that swell the heart, soothe the soul, and energize a pride in the complex selves we are called to be.
Paging through Carnet de Voyage is like a virtual backpack trip through Europe and Morocco. Craig Thompson’s sketchbook travel diary depicts in simple yet telling detail the moments, individuals, and local color that made indelible impressions on him during a combination book tour and search for exotic new inspiration.