Claire Foy and the cover of Miriam Toews' Women Talking

Women Talking: Miriam Toews’ standout novel is being made into a star-studded film

Posted by for Film

Women Talking is based on a harrowing true crime case which took place in a remote religious Mennonite colony between 2005-2009.

Warning: this article contains reference to rape and sexual abuse.

If you’re a fan of literary adaptations, take note – there’s another brilliant title to add to the long list of books currently being made into films and TV shows.

This time, it’s Miriam Toews’ Women Talking getting the Hollywood treatment. The book, which was named a Best Book Of The Year by The New York Times Book Review when it was first published back in 2018, is based on a harrowing true crime that took place in a remote religious Mennonite colony between 2005-2009.

And now, three years since its release, the book is being made into a film with a star-studded cast and crew. Here’s everything we know about Women Talking so far. 

What is Women Talking about? 

While Women Talking is based on a true crime case, the book itself is an “imagined response” to the events that took place.

The crime in question took place in a remote religious Mennonite colony in Bolivia between 2005 and 2009. 

Over the course of four years, over a hundred women and girls (some as young as three) were knocked unconscious and raped – often repeatedly – by what many thought were ghosts or demons.

Eventually, however, two men were caught trying to break into a neighbour’s house in the middle of the night, and the truth was revealed. 

The string of attacks had been orchestrated by a gang of men, who would spray whole families with an animal anaesthetic before attacking the women. In 2011, eight of the men involved were brought to trial and found guilty.

Women Talking is an imagined response about how the women of the colony responded after the men were first arrested. 

The cover for Women Talking by Miriam Toews.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews.

As the book’s official synopsis reads: “Eight women, all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their colony and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in, meet secretly in a hayloft with the intention of making a decision about how to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

“They have two days to make a plan, while the men of the colony are away in the city attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists (not ghosts, as it turns out, but local men) and bring them home.”

The synopsis continues: “How should we live? How should we love? How should we treat one another? How should we organise our societies? These are questions the women in Women Talking ask one another.” 

Who’s starring in Women Talking

The film’s central cast is home to a number of famous faces.

They include Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Claire Foy (The Crown) and Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), alongside Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod and Ben Whishaw.

August Winter, Liv McNeil and Kate Hallett will also make their feature film debuts.

When will Women Talking be released?

The film is currently in development, so it’ll be a while until we hear more about when this one will be heading to screens.

We’ll bring you the latest news as and when we get it, so stay tuned for any updates. 

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Images: Getty/Faber & Faber

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.