Set in the smoking ashes of a post-apocalyptic America, The Road by Cormac McCarthy tells the story of a father-son journey toward the sea and an uncertain salvation. Awesome in the totality of its vision, The Road is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
How long would you wait for true love? Love in the Time of Cholera, a 2007 Oprah's Book Club selection adapted for the screen the same year, asks that question and explores love in all its forms. Javier Bardem stars as the rejected Florentino Ariza, who pines for his true love, Fermina Urbino, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Fermina marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino, played by Benjamin Bratt, much to the consternation of love-sick Florentino, who spends his entire adult life trying to reconcile his feelings for this first love.
Alan Paton'sCry, the Beloved Country, a 2003 Oprah's Book Club pick, explores several powerful themes, among them compassion, forgiveness, humility, racial injustice and prejudice. While the main story line tells the tale of two families struggling to overcome hardship, South Africa is also a main character. The 1995 adaptation stars James Earl Jones, Richard Harris and Charles S. Hutton.
Colonel Behrani was a wealthy man in Iran, but now he's a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Niccolo is a recovering alcoholic and addict whose house is all she has left, and she refuses to let her hard-won stability slip away from her. Sheriff Lester Burdon, a married man who finds himself falling in love with Kathy, becomes obsessed with helping her fight for justice. The three are brought together by their mutual desire for the same house and are doomed by their inability to understand each other. In this 2003 adaptation of Andre Dubus III's 1999 novel, Sir Ben Kingsley stars as Col. Behrani, Jennifer Connlley plays the part of Kathy and Ron Eldard rounds out the cast as Lester. House of Sand and Fog was a 2000 Oprah's Book Club selection.
Natalie Portman stars as Novalee Nation, who is 17, seven months pregnant and 37 pounds overweight—and now finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, holding just $7.77 in change in the 2000 adaptation of Billie Letts' 1996 novel. Forced to realize her no-good boyfriend Willy Jack Pickens has left her with empty pockets and empty dreams, Novalee is about to discover treasures hidden in Sequoyah. Ashley Judd and Stockard Channing co-star. Where the Heart Is was a 1998 Oprah's Book Club pick.
Astrid, the only child of a single mother who is alternately brilliant but self-obsessed, worships her mother until their world is shattered after Astrid's mother, devestated after she's rejected by a lover, murders him and is sent to jail. Alison Lohman plays Astrid, the young girl who is subsequently shuttled between foster homes, struggling to find an identity of her own and cope with the circumstances around her. Michelle Pfeiffer, Renée Zellweger, Robin Wright Penn and Noah Wyle co-star in this 2002 film, based on Janet Fitch's 1999 book, a 1999 Oprah's Book Club pick.
Alice Goodwin lives with her husband and two daughters on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and is a bit of an outcast in their small community. After her neighbor's daughter drowns in a pond on her property, Alice becomes a scapegoat, fighting charges of child abuse. Sigourney Weaver gives a powerful performance as Alice in this 1999 adaptation of Jane Hamilton's novel, a 1999 Oprah's Book Club pick, and co-stars Julianne Moore, Chloë Sevigny and David Strathairn.
In this 1999 film adaptation of Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel—and a 1996 Oprah's Book Club pick—Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Beth, a mother who struggles with depression after her son is kidnapped as a toddler. Years later, a boy who shows up and asks to mow the lawn turns to be Beth's kidnapped son. Co-starring Treat Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, the movie captures the pain and anguish Beth and her family go through as they struggle to deal with what their son's kidnapping has meant to their lives.
A spellbinding epic set in 12th-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the struggle to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known—a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother. The movie adaptation of this 2007 Oprah's Book Club selection will air as a limited series on television in 2010.