Father Melancholy’s Daughter
Father Melancholy’s Daughter is just one of the many books Gail Godwin has written over the past several decades, and it would certainly make a poignant movie. The book starts with the narrator: “Although I did not know it then, my life of unpremeditated childhood ended on Wednesday, September 13, 1972.”
I imagine a calm, southern accent from the narrator while golden leaves fall and swirl around six-year-old Margaret Gower as she walks out the front door to catch the school bus, wearing a blue and brown plaid dress of soft cotton with clear, amber buttons that change colors with the light. She doesn’t know her life is about to change forever; she knows only that she dislikes Madelyn Farley, a teacher from her mother’s old boarding school who has come to visit.
Subsequently, her mother, Ruth, leaves Margaret and her father, the Rector of St. Cuthbert’s, who is already prone to episodes of depression, and goes to England to live with Madelyn Farley. The hopes that she will return end forever when Ruth dies in a car crash. Eventually, Margaret will learn more about her mother when she and Madelyn meet again, years later.
Clint Eastwood, who directed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has a sensitive side and would be the ideal director for this movie. Michael Douglas should be Father Gower/Melancholy, a Farrah Fawcett look alike (like she looked in The Apostle) should be found for the role of Ruth and Olympia Dukakis would be my pick for the role of Madelyn Farley. Several actresses, ranging from childhood to adulthood would take on the role of Margaret Gower, who should have curly, dark hair. Andie McDowell is a good pick for the adult Margaret.
She’s Come Undone
I devoured Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone as soon as I picked it up, and movie-goers would do the same. Protagonist Delores Price deals with a less than perfect childhood. When her father leaves, Delores and her mother move to Rhode Island to live with Delores’ grandmother. Delores manages her life fairly well until she is raped by her grandmother’s boarder, an adult she thought was a friend. In response to this trauma, she becomes isolated, watching soap operas and putting on weight.
Despite her mother’s accidental death while working as a toll operator, Delores manages to go to college, but attempts suicide during her first semester. She spends seven years in mental institution and after a couple of tries, finds love and respect with a man who loves her for herself.
Terry Zwigoff, who directed Ghost World and Bad Santa would do a stand-up job on She’s Come Undone. He has what it takes to give the character of Delores Price just the right edge. Since Delores goes from childhood to adulthood, a variety of actresses would need to fill those roles.
If you’ve read Lois Lenski’s books you already know what a treasure trove she created with Strawberry Girl, Bayou Suzette, Judy’s Journey and Boom Town Boy.
Mama Hattie’s Girl
Mama Hattie’s Girl would make a wonderful movie; it tells the story of Lula Bell, a ten-year-old African American girl who lives in the south on Hibiscus Street with her grandmother, Mama Hattie, her mother Imogene, and Lonnie and Eddie, her two teen-aged uncles.
They eke out a living, but all the children on Hibiscus Street believe life up north must be akin to heaven; that’s where dreams come true and everybody is rich. But when Lula Bell and Imogene move to New Jersey to be with Daddy Joe, Lula Bell’s father, she discovers life there is not all about good times and riches. Lula Bell soon moves back home to Mama Hattie, who has health problems, and learns to be responsible for not only herself, but Mama Hattie, too.
Billy Bob Thornton could do a lot with Mama Hattie’s Girl, so he has my vote as director. Halle Berry would be Imogene, Eddie Murphy could take on the role of both Daddy Joe and Mama Hattie. A casting call for an unknown should be utilized for the role of ten-year-old Lula Bell.