Our friends at Emirates Literature Festival share three books that you’ll find hard to put down…

This week the Emirates Literature Foundation team has been talking about period dramas. All the hype around the new BBC drama of Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’ got us wondering if period dramas are ever improved by being filmed.

It follows a strong tradition, epitomised most memorably by the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. (Who can forget Colin Firth’s iconic lake scene?)

Often book to screen series can fall flat, disappointingly pale imitations of the novels themselves, but some are more successful. War and Peace and Vanity Fair are both great examples of dramas that, if you haven’t time to read the books, give faithful and vibrant representations of the originals.

But, there is really no substitute for reading words on the pages of a novel, your imagination’s own personal cinema.

We’ve chosen three books that, despite being great visual dramas, should really be on your bookshelves:

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

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Perhaps one of the most compelling and beautiful accounts of friendship ever written, this book traces the stories of Elena and Lila, growing up in the violent backstreets of Naples in the 1950s. Their stories unfold with a certain impoverished glamour, as they learn to rely on each other through the highs and lows of their different destinies, and although sometimes apart, always know they have each other to count on.

My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell

My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

The storytelling in this memoir is so fresh, it is amazing that it was first published in 1956. An account of the bohemian Durrell family’s encounters when they move to Corfu in the years prior to the Second World War, its entertaining characters get themselves into ridiculous predicaments, played out hilariously against the bewitching backdrop of this idyllic Greek island. An absolute joy for all ages, it’s definitely a feel good read.

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries Eleanor Catton

Winner of the Man Booker in 2013, this is a Dickensian yarn set amidst the New Zealand gold rush in 1860, richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and financial boom and bust. A big book with a complex mystery story and mystical twists and turns, it is written in a clever but intricate experimental form that you can only really appreciate by reading it.

The team at Emirates Literature Foundation are talking about books they love over on the Boundless Book Club podcast, available here and on all your favourite podcasting platforms. There are also new videos added every week to the YouTube channel with book recommendations, author interviews and more.