Ask (Jan. 13, 2009)

Question: At least a year ago I remember rumors that an American version of [the UK television serial based on the Sarah Waters novel] Tipping the Velvet was going to be made. What is the status of that project?

— Sarah, Wheaton IL

Question: What do you know about the new Sarah Waters novel, The Little Stranger, coming out on April 30 in the US and June 4th in the UK? I’ve heard it’s a ghost story set in the 1940s; any hints about how sexy it might be?

— Sarah, Boston, Massachusetts

Sarah Waters

Answer: If all the rumors about the fabled U.S. version of Tipping the Velvet were true, this would no doubt be one of the most highly anticipated lesbian movies of all time.

Sarah Waters‘ best-selling debut novel was first brought to the small screen in 2002 by BBC television, and starred Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes, and Jodhi May. The film also featured Sally Hawkins, who went on to star in the next BBC serialization of another Waters novel for television, Fingersmith, in 2005. (Hawkins won a Golden Globe Award this week for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy for her role in the film Happy-Go-Lucky).

In 2006, rumors of a U.S. version of the film to be directed by Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation) and starring Desperate HousewivesEva Longoria Parker and actress-singer Beyoncé Knowles as lovers exploded on the internet. The news was quickly reported in publications around the world, and, almost just as quickly, were denied by all who were allegedly involved.

Eva Longoria Parker and Beyoncé Knowles

Longoria said, “What makes me crazy is that there are quotes out there, quotes from me saying it’s true. But in fact it’s not true. And (there are) quotes of Beyoncé saying it’s about time we had a female Brokeback Mountain. And we’re like, we never said that.”

Beyonce’s representatives chimed in with, "This is not happening. We’ve never heard of this film." If she liked it, she would have put a ring on it, right?

So will a U.S. version of Tipping the Velvet ever see the light of day? There’s no definitive answer. does have a listing for the film scheduled for a 2010 release, but with no additional information. The official website for Sarah Waters makes no mention of it either.

Waters fans, however, can take heart in knowing that her latest novel The Little Stranger will be published by Riverhead in April 2009 in the U.S. and by Virago in June 2009 in the U.K.

There’s very little press on the novel at this time, but the description of the book sounds interesting.

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

The bad news? Waters told us in an on-camera interview last summer that the book doesn’t have any lesbian characters.

"There was an angry letter to the UK lesbian magazine Diva from a reader who thought I’d betrayed lesbians," Walters told the The Times in December. "She said she wasn’t going to buy my books, and neither were her friends. Which was a bit depressing and made me feel a bit crap.”

The good news? Waters promises that she still plans to write about lesbians in her future novels. "The book after the next one, I’ll come back to a lesbian story.”

A new edition of Ask is published every Tuesday. Have a question for us? Email it to For more entertainment news, read previous editions of Ask, and check out’s weekly entertainment Q&A column, Ask The Flying Monkey.

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