Amy Adams stars in new HBO limited series Sharp Objects premiering July 9

Five-time Academy Award-nominee Amy Adams (“Arrival,” “Nocturnal Animals“) stars in the new TV series Sharp Objects, set to premiere on HBO at 9am on Monday, July 9, taking up the slot left vacant by Westworld.

The eight-episode series is based on the novel of the same name, with Adams playing reporter Camille Preaker who comes back to her hometown to cover the murder of one preteen girl and the abduction of another. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, she finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too closely.

Sharp Objects is the first novel of now renowned author Gillian Flynn(“Gone Girl,” “Dark Places“), who also wrote some of the series’ episodes.  She shared “I wrote it nights and weekends and holidays with no real belief it would ever be published, because I felt like I had to bring this girl to life, so it holds a sacred place with me. It’s a strange and thrilling thing, bringing text to screen, allowing it to become a new thing while honoring readers’ interpretations too — it’s fun and a bit scary.

“This was my first novel, yet the last to reach screen — 12 long and often disappointing years. But then Amy came along, and I thought, ‘Oh, that was it! Camille was waiting for Amy to play her.’ And that’s not lofty, writer talk. I really believe Camille needed Amy.”

Emmy, DGA and PGA award-winning director Jean-Marc Vallée (HBO’s “Big Little Lies”; “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Wild”) who helmed the project relays that he was quite taken in by the character Camille saying “I was falling for this character. Never met, never seen, nor heard anyone like this before.

“I was fascinated by her obsession with words, the way she uses them to define herself, to heal and to harm, and her way of describing the world, her way of talking about herself, her wounds and imperfections. What a unique voice, so raw, so dark, and yet so honest and vulnerable. That is Camille Preaker’s beauty, and Amy Adams.’ I feel grateful and fortunate to have witnessed the spectacular work of an actress who dared to play in the dark, with no safety net.”

The series’ cast of characters are:

Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a St. Louis newspaper reporter sent on assignment to Wind Gap, her quaint Missouri hometown, to cover the gruesome murder of one preteen girl and the disappearance of another.

Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson – the “Maze Runner” series, HBO’s “Six Feet Under“), Camille’s mother and queen of Wind Gap’s high society, who has her serene, picture-perfect life threatened by the unexpected return of her estranged daughter.

Richard Willis (Chris Messina – “The Mindy Project,” HBO’s “The Newsrooom“), a detective brought in from Kansas City to support Wind Gap’s sheriff in the search for the killer of a young girl. He joins forces with Camille to try to solve the mystery.

Amma (Eliza Scanlen – “Home and Away”), Camille’s 15-year-old half-sister, living a double life as a restrained and girlish daughter at home with her parents, and as a brash, impetuous teenager when out with friends.

Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins – “This Is Us,” HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm“), the local gossip and renowned alcoholic. Trashy, fun and larger than life, she knows she’s a “backwoods Barbie” and has a sense of humour about it.

Vickery (Matt Craven – “X-Men,” “Justified“), the frustrated small-town police chief, trying to preserve the reputation of Wind Gap by keeping a lid on the possibility that a serial killer might live among them.

John Keene (Taylor John Smith – “Cruel Intentions,” “American Crime“), moody and sombre since the murder of his 13-year-old sister. His sensitive, temperamental nature raises eyebrows and makes him a prime suspect in the murder investigation.

Meredith (Madison Davenport – “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series“), the confident and supportive girlfriend of murder suspect John Keene.

Bob Nash (Will Chase – HBO’s “The Deuce“), the hot-tempered father of Ann Nash, Wind Gap’s first murder victim.

Alan Crellin (Henry Czerny – “Quantico,” “When We Rise“), Adora’s attentive, mild-mannered husband, who dotes on her.

Curry (Miguel Sandoval – “Station 19,” “Medium“), Camille’s caring and supportive newspaper editor, who sends her on assignment to her home town.

Young Camille (Sophia Lillis – “It“), a 14-year-old tomboy who is devoted to her younger sister, Marian.

Episodes airing in July include:

Episode #1: “Vanish”

Premieres Monday, July 9 at 9am

Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a reporter for the St. Louis Chronicle, is sent to her rural hometown of Wind Gap by her editor, Curry (Miguel Sandoval), to file a story about two missing girls, one of whom was found dead and presumed murdered. The assignment, which reunites Camille with her overbearing mother, Adora (Patricia Clarkson), stepfather, Alan Crellin (Henry Czerny), and half-sister, Amma (Eliza Scanlen), brings back traumatic childhood memories, including the death of Camille’s younger sister, Marian (Lulu Wilson), when both were schoolgirls. Tormented by her past and seeking refuge through alcohol, Camille joins Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina) and Chief of Police Vickery (Matt Craven) in following leads around town that might shed light on the fate of the most recent missing girl.

Episode #2: “Dirt”

Premieres Monday, July 16 at 9am

Camille (Amy Adams) searches for clues at the funeral and wake for Wind Gap’s latest victim, and clashes with her mother (Patricia Clarkson) over Camille’s presence in the town. Richard (Chris Messina) finds a surprising way to arrive at a conclusion about the murderer’s profile. Camille pays a visit to the working-class home of a young boy (Matty Evers) who says he witnessed the abduction, and confronts Chief Vickery (Matt Craven) about why he ignored the boy’s claim.

Episode #3: “Fix”

Premieres Monday, July 23 at 9am

Camille (Amy Adams) relives a recent tragedy as she struggles to piece together the murders in Wind Gap. Richard (Chris Messina) grows frustrated with Chief Vickery’s (Matt Craven) assumptions regarding potential suspects. A defiant Amma (Eliza Scanlen) shows off her wild side to Camille, while Adora (Patricia Clarkson) admonishes Camille for meddling in the investigation and a town in mourning.

Episode #4: “Ripe”

Premieres Monday, July 30 at 9am

Camille (Amy Adams) agrees to show Richard (Chris Messina) some of Wind Gap’s crime scenes, though the tour opens up old wounds.  Alan (Henry Czerny) confronts Adora (Patricia Clarkson) about her sharing confidences with Chief Vickery (Matt Craven), who is concerned about the Crellins hosting the annual “Calhoun Day” attended by Wind Gap’s youth. Fired from his job at Preaker Farms, John (Taylor John Smith) shares off-the-record revelations with Camille that raise fresh concerns for her.

New Sharp Objects episodes will air Mondays on HBO (SKYcable ch 54 SD and 168 HD in Metro Manila) at 9am with same day primetime encore at 10pm.  New episodes will also be available for streaming within the same day on HBO Go, HBO’s online streaming service exclusively available in the Philippines to SKY subscribers.

HBO Go not available in your area? Watch Sharp Objects on HBO on Amazon Prime.  Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

Series and episode details provided by HBO in a recent press release.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

Check out my other posts on HBO shows adapted from novels:

You can also purchase the novel that the series is based on, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, at Amazon.com.

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Reimagining Pride and Prejudice – Pemberley Variations by Abigail Reynolds

Author Jane Austen produced a timeless masterpiece in her novel Pride and Prejudice.  Initially titled First Impressions, the novel set in Georgian Era England depicts the courtships, manners and concerns of the landed gentry through the romantic developments between protagonists Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Through their exciting repartee and their dealings with other characters, the readers see the development of their feelings for each other to overcome their differences and get the happily-ever-after ending of marital bliss.

As with all fiction that truly engages with their audience, Pride and Prejudice inspired works from its fans that expands upon the original.  One such fan is Abigail Reynolds, a Massachussetts-based physician who started writing P&P fan fiction, posting her work in Jane Austen fan sites and later expanding her reach through self-publishing. Her works explore different plot elements that deviate from the course of Jane Austen’s original, the “what-ifs” that builds upon the situations and motivations of the protagonists, but will inevitably conclude with a happily-ever-after ending of Elizabeth and Darcy getting married. She even adapts some of P&P’s popular lines to new situations. She later titled this series as Pemberley Variations.

Most of the elements that readers love about P&P remain: the Elizabeth’s initial dislike of Mr. Darcy, his reticence misconstrued as arrogance by Elizabeth and the Meryton folks, his termagant of an aunt in Lady Catherine DeBourgh and the role played by Elizabeth’s relatives, the Gardiners, in bringing them together.

The combinations of familiar and new elements make the Variations, as a whole, very compelling reads.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy (republished from Impulse and Initiative)

What if, instead of disappearing from her life after his disastrous proposal, Darcy was persuaded to return to Hertfordshire and change her mind about him?

This novel introduced me to the Pemberley Variations and got me hooked to the series. After a short period wallowing in misery in his London home, Darcy was talked by his cousin Richard into going back to Longbourn, assist in Charles Bingley’s courtship of Elizabeth’s sister Jane, and basically show Elizabeth that he is worthy of love.

I found the unfolding of their love story irresistible and Elizabeth’s awakening at Darcy’s touch quite steamy. My misgiving about this book is the Pemberley staff’s overly solicitous management of Darcy’s reaction to a “certain happy event.” It may illustrate how beloved a master Darcy is but it comes across as babying him.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in The World(republished from The Last Man in the World)

What if Darcy, the man Elizabeth thought is the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry is her husband?

Forced to accept his proposal because she was caught in a compromising situation with him, Elizabeth did not have the benefit of knowing the kind of man he really was. Darcy found himself wondering where his dutiful wife’s arch humor and feistiness had gone until the time came when her bottled-up resentments were revealed.

This book is my favorite among the Variations; it got me teary-eyed a more than couple of times. Elizabeth and Darcy’s reunion in the end is made all the sweeter by the all the suffering caused by their earlier misunderstandings.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession

What if Elizabeth was even more unsuitable for Mr. Darcy?

Elizabeth and her sisters are left in dire straits by the untimely death of her father.  Darcy can’t still get memories of her out of his mind even years after his unsuccessful proposal. When he encounters her again, he finds himself constantly seeking her out.

In this novel, we see Elizabeth in surroundings unfamiliar to us: her uncle and aunt’s abode in Gracechurch Street (near Cheapside), in London.  We also see more of Darcy’s relations aside from the ones introduced in Austen’s original: he has a snotty earl uncle, a reprobate cousin and a termagant aunt who all figure into his romance with Elizabeth.

I found this novel an entertaining read, although Georgiana Darcy’s backstory in this book is a bit out of character.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

What Would Mr. Darcy Do? (republished from From Lambton to Longbourn)

What if instead of parting ways at the brink of the scandal involving Elizabeth’s sister, she and Darcy were able to reveal their feelings for each other?

At the Lambton inn just after Elizabeth received the news that Lydia has run off with Wickham, Darcy expressed his continued feelings for her.  Thus began an ardent courtship which also involved Elizabeth’s growing closeness with Darcy’s sister Georgiana.

This novel is a straightforward read with few, if any, bumps in the plot. The pranks and teasing that Darcy endured from Elizabeth and Georgiana as the two women exchanged letters from Lambton and Derbyshire were quite entertaining.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Mr Darcy’s Letter

What if Elizabeth chose not to read Darcy’s letter after she refused his proposal?

Since Elizabeth didn’t find out about Wickham’s misdeeds against his family, and her view of the two men remain unchanged, she put herself and Darcy in danger of falling into Wickham’s schemes.

The story elements in this novel are a bit more outlandish which include Darcy fighting a duel with Wickham and his solution to finding Lydia a husband.  Still, it’s a good way to while away some time reading.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge

What if Elizabeth’s reputation is in jeopardy because she is forced to spend time alone with Mr. Darcy?

In this version of events, Elizabeth is forced into close quarters with Mr. Darcy by the flooding that isolates them from other people.  Forced to work and live together, they discover new facets about each other that allow their feelings to develop.  That is, until the world intrudes on them again.

In contrast to the other novels in the series, this one explores pairing Elizabeth’s sister Jane with someone else.  I found the dynamics of the new couple, and how their love story wove in to Elizabeth and Darcy’s, quite an absorbing read.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Without Reserve

What if when Mr. Darcy returns to Hertfordshire he is faced with a true rival for Elizabeth’s affections?

This book, also among my favorites in the series, explores how Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s romance would have developed had Elizabeth already accepted the proposal of a childhood friend prior to Darcy’s return. Darcy sets about changing Elizabeth’s negative perception of him without the hope that he will be able to win her.

I found the change in circumstance between Darcy and Elizabeth intriguing, how their attraction, sense of mutual respect and shared humor continued to develop despite Elizabeth’s engagement.  Darcy decided to leave to escape the pain of seeing Elizabeth marry another man but, upon his return, gains hope in the knowledge that she broke off her engagement.

Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections

What if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy find themselves away from Meryton and mingling with the denizens of the ton in a posh house party? What if Darcy’s cousin makes a bet that he can seduce Elizabeth during their stay?

This book’s plot is quite hard to follow – with the various twists and turns and inconsistencies – that frankly, I just tuned out.  This is probably the weakest among the books in the series.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Alone with Mr. Darcy

What if Elizabeth and an injured Mr. Darcy are stranded in an isolated cottage by a snowstorm? 

Similar to Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, the protagonists are secluded together by an act of nature, this time by a snowstorm.  Here, they iron out their differences while wrestling with the possibility that Elizabeth’s reputation may be tainted by their unchaperoned seclusion.

Elizabeth’s father, Mr. Bennett, played a more active role in hindering the two lovers; his motivations is still unclear to me.  The objections of Darcy’s snootier connections also come into play.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Mr. Darcy’s Journey

What if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy find themselves in the middle of Luddite revolts, with his colorful noble relations, the Fitzwilliams, added to the fray?

Fresh from her disappointment over the transfer of Wickham’s attentions to another woman, Elizabeth journeys to London to escape the Meryton gossip and be with her sister, Jane.  There, she encounters Mr. Darcy and overhears him insulting her family.

The couple finds themselves traveling to northern England with bickering Fitzwilliams.  The breakout character in this novel is Lady Matlock, the Fitzwilliam matriarch, who proves to have quite progressive views as well as leadership skills that help resolve the conflicts that surround their group.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

Conceit and Concealment

What if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have to contend with, not just the Meryton gossips and the rules of the ton, but the French occupation of England as well?

The unthinkable has happened: England is under French rule. Aside from objections to his seeming arrogance and pride, Mr. Darcy is considered a traitor to England, since he appears to be consorting with the hated French officials and still has his wealth. At first, Elizabeth joins in on the near-universal disdain towards him. However, Mr. Darcy hides a secret that holds the key to England’s liberation.

This is the most ambitious of Reynolds’ Variations to date: applying an alternate history to P&P and showing how these new circumstances bring out the characters’ traits and motivations. The ending is a bit anti-climactic, but props to the author for a truly unusual retelling.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.com.

The Pemberley Variations series is an astounding feat for Ms. Reynolds.  She was able to reimagine the characters in new situations yet still, for the most part, keep to the heart of the original. While some of her later works fell short of the bar set by her earlier novels, I’m hopeful that she will be able to regain her momentum and keep producing new twists to Elizabeth and Darcy’s story that her readers will enjoy unraveling.

For more details on her books and other projects, visit Abigail Reynolds website, where you can also  download some P&P variation novellas for free as a sampling of her work.

Check out my other blog posts on my favorite books:

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Check out P&P’s movie and TV adaptations:

  • The 1940 film which stars Greer Garson and Sir Laurence Olivier

  • The 2005 film which stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen