Book Reviews Over 50s Lifestyle

When a novel is transformed into a play – does it work?

June 17, 2022

Have you read a book and then watched the movie or theatre adaptation and felt disappointed? I know I have, because if I’ve enjoyed the book I really don’t want the filmmakers to make changes. One in particular I always remember was Under the Tuscan Sun. I loved the book and looked forward to seeing the movie only to find that the ending was completely different – I felt let down!

Another example was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult. I absolutely loved the book and literally ‘gasped’ when I read the ending. It was completely unexpected. I then watched the movie with my husband, ensuring him it was worth the wait but to my utter disappointment the ending was changed and certainly did not have the impact of the final scenes in the book

So when a dear friend asked if I would like to see Jane Eyre at the QPAC theatre in Brisbane I readily agreed however was a little sceptical. Would the play live up to the book?

Jane Eyre presented by the shake and stir theatre company

Jane Eyre – Presented by shake&stir theatre company

shake and stir theatre company is widely acknowledged as a leading national touring theatre company in Australia.

Held in the Cremorne Theatre of QPAC provided an intimate atmosphere and closer access to the actors. We walked into the theatre and from the beginning the Gothic, dark theme was set. We we warned to watch our step as the theater was dark. Finding out seats we immediately felt we were in Thornton Hall with Jane and the feeling of desolation she must have felt. There were only four actors – Nelle Lee played Jane and the other three actors Julian Garner, Jodie Le Vesconte, Sarah McLeod played different characters from the book.

The stage setting was simple, stark and the scenes with fire were exceptional and the use of lighting was excellent adding another dimension. As one reviewer wrote:

an aesthetically complex and yet functional stage composed of a vertical black scaffolding with multiple levels for the action to unfold. The several levels allow for an easy change of scene and for the actors to smoothly shift into a different character.


Original music performed on stage my multi ARIA award winner and actor Sarah McLeod added to the intensity and drama. The play is just over 2 hours long plus a short intermission. The production skillfully covers the whole story well despite the length.

So to my original question: When a novel is transformed into a play – does it work?

On this occasion for me – YES IT DOES!!

My fellow bookclubber and I both picked up on things we had missed in the book, even during our Book Club discussions. My other friend, had not read the book but was completely enthralled and understood the story.

I came away feeling a deeper connection with Jane, having read the book and then seen the play. I believe the performance was true to Charlotte’s work and I’m sure she would have been very happy with the result.

Book Club

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we completed all the Brontë Sisters novels and are now studying Jane Austen. Our first book, Persuasian was a delight and we have moved onto a favourite of many – Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately, life has interrupted in various ways and we had to postpone our first Book Club discussion. I’m looking forward to when we meet to discuss this popular classic. (I also loved the movie especially with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy)

I was also delighted to receive this lovely surprise gift from my cousin which I’ve just glimpsed through but eager to explore.

Jane Austen’s Kitchen

What have you been reading lately? Why not join us at What’s On Your Bookshelf and share it with us? You can link up your post below.

What’s On Your Bookshelf is a monthly link-up co-hosted by Debbie (Deb’s World), Jo (And Anyways), Sue (Women Living Well After 50) and Donna (Retirement Reflections). #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

What's on your bookshelf?

Donna, Jo, Debbie and I are delighted to co-host What’s On Your Bookshelf? Link Up. To join us and share what you have been reading, you can share in the comments, pingback with your own post, or use the handy InLInkz bar below. Please be sure to tag #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge. We look forward to hearing your thoughts as well as your book suggestions!

Happy Reading!

Sue Loncaric

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Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Jo June 17, 2022 at 08:12

    So glad you guys enjoyed Jane – it sounds like a great production & so glad they brought the gothic mood into the theatre. I’ve been so looking forward to our P&P discussion…

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 17, 2022 at 08:19

      You would have loved it Jo and it is still on until early July. The only down side was that we didn’t have you with us. xx

  • Reply Debbie June 17, 2022 at 08:34

    A fabulous review of the play Sue! Can’t wait to discuss Jane Austen with our group of bookclubbers!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 17, 2022 at 09:18

      It was really good, wasn’t it Deb? Yes looking forward to our next meeting. x

  • Reply Carol June 17, 2022 at 09:49

    I’m thinking of two nonfiction works that have been adapted for the stage: Hamilton (the Musical) and the Day the World Came to Town (Come From Away). Both excellent!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 17, 2022 at 10:50

      Hi Carol I’ve not seen either although I’ve heard great reveiws of Hamilton. x

  • Reply Bernie June 17, 2022 at 10:00

    Sad to admit that I have not read those classics. Guess I should remedy that in the winter. Going to re read all the Anne of Green Gables this summer as we are going to PEI in Sept! Bernie

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 17, 2022 at 10:52

      Hi Bernie, I loved PEI when I visited Unfortunately it was only a day trip whilst on a cruise but I did visit Green Gables, bought a copy of Anne of Green Gables and then we did a bus tour of the island. It was beautiful. Enjoy! I haven’t read Jane Austen for many years and also I hadn’t read all of the Bronte Sisters novels. I’m enjoying that our Bookclub is focusing on these classics and discussing not just the book but the writer. x

  • Reply Retirement Reflections June 17, 2022 at 12:59

    Hi, Sue – It is always such a delight when a movie, play or television series does true justice to a beloved book. Being hopeful, I checked to see if Shake & Stir had any international performance of Jane Eyre planned. Sadly, they currently do not. 🙁
    I had planned to reread Anne of Green Gables when I was recently in PEI, but Bleak House (which I also loved) consumed all of my reading time.
    Thank you again for adding my InLinkz. Greatly appreciated!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 17, 2022 at 13:05

      Hi Donna, I did see some international performances of the production – not by shake&stir but hopefully one will come your way. It really was remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable. xx

      • Reply Retirement Reflections June 17, 2022 at 13:07

        That would be awesome! I am cheering for them to come to Vancouver!! 😀

        • Reply Sue Loncaric June 17, 2022 at 13:13

          That would be great, wouldn’t it? x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones June 17, 2022 at 14:20

    Hi Sue the production sounds really great. What a relief it lived up to the book. Like you, I also get annoyed when changes are made to book adaptations. I agree with you about My Sisters Keeper. I couldn’t believe the ending of the movie. I remember being very annoyed by the change

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:51

      Hi Jen I’m glad you felt the same about how the movie My Sister’s Keeper ended. I was very annoyed and felt I had wasted 2 hours of my time waiting for an ending that didn’t happen. x

  • Reply Denyse Whelan Blogs June 17, 2022 at 16:49

    I am so pleased you were not disappointed with your visit to the theatre. It was lovely to see your photos too from the day. I have only seen Pride and Prejudice the version with Colin Firth and loved it so much I re-viewed it during covid isolation last year. I was given a ticket to see Boy Swallows Universe by my daughter as we both loved the book by Trent Dalton. I was hoping that I would not be disappointed by it. Turned out, my daughter gave our tix to 2 Qld friends as neither of us could make it during covid. They loved it. It’s now being made into a series on Netflix and Trent is beside himself with joy! Thanks for the link up. Denyse.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:52

      Oh I know you are a Trent Dalton fan, Denyse. I’ve not read any of his books but he has done very well hasn’t he? I do love the Pride and Prejudice movie with Colin Firth and should make some time to revisit as we have just finished the book in our Bookclub. x

  • Reply leannelc June 17, 2022 at 17:20

    Hi Sue – glad the play lived up to and exceeded your expectations. Did you see that Neflix is showing an adaptation of Persuasion with Dakota Johnson in the lead role (a bit of a change to 50 Shades of Grey!)

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:53

      It was an excellent production and performance Leanne. I’ve actually read about the adaptation of Persuasian and there are mixed thoughts at the moment. I don’t have Netflix but I do hope they stay true to the book. xx

  • Reply Toni Pike June 17, 2022 at 18:47

    Hi Sue, an interesting question – I’m so glad you enjoyed the play. I love Jane Austen above all else, and my favourite series of all time is the 1995 Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Toni x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:54

      Hi Toni it was a wonderful adaptation and both Deb and I really enjoyed the afternoon. I think the P&P movie with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is also one of the best from the Austen series. x

  • Reply rawsonjl June 17, 2022 at 20:46

    OH yes, sometimes I am so let down by the adaptations! Other times I think they do a really great job of bringing the book to life. So glad you had a great time watching the play!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:55

      It was a lovely afternoon, Joanne and the production certainly exceeded my expectations. x

  • Reply Suzanne@PictureRetirement June 17, 2022 at 22:58

    Sue, ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is being released in the US soon. My book club read it years ago and we are anxious to see it. I have read that the author was heavily involved in the movie production, so hopefully it will remain true. It is always a disappointment when ‘Hollywood Endings’ take president over the author’s words. The play sounds like a lovely experience. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:56

      I adored ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, Suzanne so I am looking forward to seeing the movie. I do hope as you say there isn’t a ‘Hollywood Ending’ because it would not be in keeping with the book. It is one of my all-time favourites. xx

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee June 18, 2022 at 07:23

    Glad it was a good adaptation. I remember reading the play of Farhenheit 451 after falling in love with the book. Both written by Bradbury but about 20 years apart. The play is too sentimental for me so I much prefer the harder less forgiving younger authors version of events. But going to the theatre and supporting the arts is the antidote we need after these years of lockdown so I’m enjoying it greatly!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric June 18, 2022 at 07:57

      Hi Lydia it was an excellent production and both Deb and I enjoyed it. I know you are a patron of the arts and I haven’t been to the Theatre for so long it was certainly a wonderful way to spend my Saturday afternoon whilst also supporting the arts. x

  • Reply Alison August 26, 2022 at 17:55

    I completely missed this month’s reviews and thought it was today! I think you had better not watch Persuasion on Netflix then, so disappointing! I think I’ve enjoyed most films from books. Although Gone Girl was a shocker and didn’t end the same. I’ve just seen Where The Crawdads sing and loved it, I wasn’t keen on the book though

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 28, 2022 at 07:45

      Hi Alison, the WOYBS is every third Thursday in the month so it can get confusing. It is annoying to me when movies change the ending of books. I enjoyed reading Where the Crawdads Sing so am keen to see if the film lives up to my estimation. x

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