Thursday, February 14, 2013

Katherine Howe's "The House of Velvet and Glass"

Katherine Howe was born in Houston, Texas, and holds degrees in art history and philosophy from Columbia and in American and New England Studies from Boston University. She is the author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and which has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Here Howe shares some ideas about casting an adaptation of her latest novel, The House of Velvet and Glass:
The House of Velvet and Glass, a story of one Boston Brahmin family reeling in the aftermath of the Titanic sinking, is tricky to cast, for one thing because people's bodies today look very different than they did one hundred years ago. Sibyl Allston, the main character who must face the coming of the twentieth century with all its glory and terror, is in her late twenties, a brunette with rich brown eyes. I think Winona Ryder would make a beautiful Sibyl, both because of her coloring, but also because of her unique ability to portray strength and fragility at once. Benton Derby, Sibyl's friend and confederate, has short, steely hair and pale blue eyes, and is built like a wrestler. Mark Wahlberg has the right age and build for Benton, though he has dark eyes. Sibyl's wastrel brother Harley is slighter and much younger than Benton, and should be played by the sort of actor one might dearly wish to punch in the face. I'm open to suggestions! Harley's lover Dovie Whistler, a blonde-haired and green-eyed actress, would be wonderfully portrayed by Dakota Fanning, who I'd love to see in a 1910s early jazz age bob, her eyes ringed with kohl. Finally, the patriarch of the Allston family, Lan, appears at two different stages in his life: first as a distinguished retired sea captain of about seventy, which I think would be perfect for Daniel Day Lewis, and next as a privileged teenage boy from Salem who's shipped out on his first clipper voyage to China. I'm not sure who the teenage Lan should be, but whoever it is, he should be comfortable dealing with a shimmering blue macaw.
Learn more about the book and author at Katherine Howe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House of Velvet and Glass.

--Marshal Zeringue