Friday, May 13, 2016

Lauren Belfer's "And After the Fire"

Lauren Belfer's debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a number one Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010.

Here Belfer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel And After the Fire:
And After the Fire alternates between two plot lines, one in the present, one in the past, each with a strong female protagonist. As I worked on the novel, I decided that the ideal movie version would feature the same actress in both roles. This would be a tour-de-force opportunity for an actress, if I may say so myself! The historical figure, Sara Itzig Levy, lived from 1761-1854, and the novel presents her from girlhood until shortly before her death at age 93. She was a skilled musician, and for over fifty years she hosted a salon that brought together artists and intellectuals from across Europe, aristocrats and commoners alike. In the present-day story, the fictional Susanna Kessler is in her thirties, a highly-focused young woman who is recovering from a devastating act of violence. I’ve often imagined Natalie Portman or Rachel Weisz in both these roles – and Natalie Portman could direct, as well; recently, she made her directing debut in A Tale of Love and Darkness.

Sara and Susanna each have a strong love interest, and here I’d pick different men for the roles. For Susanna’s love, how could I resist Daniel Craig, with his handsome gravitas, especially if Rachel Weisz is the lead actress? And as Sara’s beloved husband, Clive Owen would be perfect.

And After the Fire encompasses two centuries of history and has a large cast of characters, real and fictional. In the supporting roles, I’d pick Adrian Brody to be the composer Felix Mendelssohn. Emily Blunt to play Felix’s sister, Fanny. Jim Broadbent would be terrific as Rev. Frank Mueller, a (fictional) Lutheran pastor and the moral center of the novel. And as Frederic Fournier, the conniving impresario, who else but Ralph Fiennes?
Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Belfer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce Radiance.

My Book, The Movie: A Fierce Radiance.

The Page 69 Test: And After the Fire.

Writers Read: Lauren Belfer.

--Marshal Zeringue