Top 5 Books to Adapt as TV Shows, Like Revenge

Shakespeare Revenge Book
Photo: Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Revenge creator Mike Kelley based the Hamptons-set primetime soap on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo. We decided to venture into the great literary canon and come up with some other classic books that could be adapted into addictive television.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: A sweeping Dickens epic about two identical-looking men who are in love with the same woman, A Tale of Two Cities is waiting for a modern day reimagining. Actors relish in playing dual roles—their Emmy reels are all the better for it—and the idea could be condensed into a more intimate premise. Our idea: A beautiful model who commutes between San Francisco and New York for work meets the man of her dreams during a weekend in the Hamptons, a dashing dot-com billionaire who sweeps her off her feet and promises her a fabulous life and future. She’s stunned just weeks later when she meets his spitting image—a rough-and-tumble recovering alcoholic photographer—at a gig in San Fran. As she falls in love with both men, she’s forced to choose between the life she thinks she wants with the billionaire and a more challenging, but ultimately more passionate relationship with the photographer.

2. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare: The seminal Shakespeare tragedy has been adapted in various ways, but ours would be a more faithful version, mostly, with analogs for each of the major characters. Our idea: The star-crossed lovers will come from feuding wealthy families—one from a legacies-old, upper-crust, old-money Hamptons dynasty, the other from a progressive, local new money family—and, in a post-modern twist, R&J will be two guys! Our Romeo has just come back from a stint in a psychiatric hospital after suffering a breakdown for mysterious reasons, and our Julian is a happy-go-lucky guy whose supportive but overbearing family has sheltered him from any difficulties in life. When the two meet, all hell breaks loose. Will their families be torn apart? And we’ll also answer the question of why the families hate each other, which might just have to do with a secret that involves our two heroes.

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker: The original vampire story was a tale of lust and sin permeating its way into the pure and proper lives of its unsuspecting heroes. Our adaptation wouldn’t have glittery boys a la Twilight, but it wouldn’t be down-and-dirty grit like True Blood, either. Instead, we’d tell a Revenge-like story of a mysterious man moving into a rich, conservative community (Southampton?) and sexing it up while slowly transforming the citizens into vampires. Is he good? Is he evil?

4. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: Capitalizing on recent hits such as The Hunger Games and other dystopian/apocalyptic media, our adaptation of the influential speculative fiction novel would be a pulpy, neo-noir story about a group of rebels in a society ruled by a seemingly benevolent corporate organization that is quite obviously evil in every way. A muscle, a seductive vixen, a computer whiz—hey, this sounds like Revenge!—and other useful archetypes hatch a plan to take down the corrupt leaders, and the audience slowly learns the truth about how this organization came to be and how society got to a place where a private corporation was able to govern an entire people.

5. Emma by Jane Austen: Something a bit lighter than these other ideas, our adaptation of Emma would be more realistic than Clueless (a very light adaptation). Our lovely heroine (we’ll call her Emma), a young lady of privilege who has just graduated from an Ivy League college, returns to her family’s Southampton estate to find it in shambles—her mother split, leaving her father a crying mess who won’t stop reading romance novels; her uncle, who’s come to take care of her father, is too busy gambling at the local reservation to help pick up the pieces; and the family maid has moved out of the guest house and into the main mansion with her daughter, a plain but pretty girl who seems to get everything she wants with little effort. Emma ends up hiring a handsome but hardheaded young lawyer from Manhattan to help with the family’s legal problems, and though they clash, they soon find themselves falling for each other.

Which classic would you adapt into a TV series? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter or Facebook!

Want more Revenge? Visit on Mondays to get the scoop from each week’s episode in our Weekly Hamptons Revenge Recap, and read more Revenge Top 5 lists here.

More from Our Sister Sites