In The Queen's Gambit, Netflix has brought to the screen a novel from the 1980s. The original book, also titled The Queen’s Gambit, was written in 1983 by author Walter Tevis. In both the book and the series, "Beth Harmon" is at the center of the story.
In the novel, Tevis deals with "Beth," who's 8 years old at the plot's outset. While being raised at an orphanage, the shy child blossoms when she discovers the game of chess.
The Queen's Gambit book & TV series share storylines
The Queen's Gambit novel and the series do follow the same story. In both, "Beth" turns out to be a serious chess genius, but she faces personal challenges.
The young protagonist comes into contact with addictive substances at an early age, as carers at the orphanage often administered sedatives for the children to cope. "Beth" develops a dependency and, with age, alcohol joins the picture in addition to drugs.
However, the addictive behavior does not initially affect the heroine's success. She wins competition after competition and enters the U.S. Open Championships.
Novel: The Queen's Gambit blurs genres
Walter Tevis' The Queen's Gambit is difficult to classify. His book is both a thriller, a sports novel, and an educational work. The blurring of the boundaries and mixing of genres add to the book's appeal.
Critics also praised the accurate descriptions of chess in the 1983 book. The author's own chess-playing experience comes to the fore in the work.
The Queen's Gambit: Successful as a novel & TV show
With The Queen's Gambit, Tevis created a strong protagonist whose interior struggles generate conflict on her way to success. In addition, as a young woman in the '80s, "Beth" stands out among male-dominated competition.
The feminist story is a timeless one, as evidenced by the great success on Netflix around 37 years after the book. In the miniseries, "Beth" is portrayed by actress Anya Taylor-Joy.
An earlier film adaptation was in the works with screenwriter Allan Shiach and Heath Ledger as a producer, dating back to 2007. But Ledger died tragically in 2008, and the project never came to fruition.
For more, get to know Queen's Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy better here.