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When classic stories get reinvented, can they ever be a success? Five get reviewed

Writer : Hetta Howes, Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Trendy Literature, Metropolis, College of London

Enid Blyton’s kids’s traditional The Magic Faraway Tree has enchanted loyal readers since its 1943 publication. Kids longed to befriend Silky, to slip down the slippery slip, to discover distant lands and be dwelling in time for tea.

The information that Jacqueline Wilson is writing a brand new faraway tree story is welcome to many, if to not the Enid Blyton Society, who declare that new model will detract from Blyton’s originals.

Wilson has been cautious to stress that The Magic Faraway Tree: A New Journey will probably be a continuation of the sequence reasonably than a rewrite, and she or he makes the purpose that Blyton, a shrewd businesswoman, would have welcomed the additional publicity. Her choice is a reminder that there’s a custom of continuation and prequel novels by new authors. Listed below are 5 reviewed.

1. Extensive Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (1966)

Extensive Sargasso Sea is a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s traditional Jane Eyre and is arguably essentially the most completed continuation of a traditional. It focuses on Mr Rochester’s first spouse Bertha Mason, who he famously imprisoned within the attic, and who stands in the way in which of his completely satisfied ending with Jane.

Annoyed by the stereotypical portrayal of Bertha in a novel which in any other case excels in its characterisation, Rhys makes use of her prequel to critique Victorian representations of girls and psychological sickness. She provides the “madwoman within the attic” a voice and her novel serves as a horrifying reminder of what can occur when these with energy mistreat these with out.

2. Mrs de Winter, Susan Hill (1993)

“Final night time I dreamed I got here to Manderley once more.” The opening of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is likely one of the greatest identified in literature – and movie, because of Hitchcock. Sadly, whereas Susan Hill often spins a wonderful spooky yarn, her sequel to Rebecca falls flat. She does job of paying homage to De Maurier’s fashion, and the opening is suitably mysterious, however the principle downside right here is that Mrs de Winter finally ends up rehashing a lot of the unique reasonably than including something new.

As within the first ebook, the brand new Mrs de Winter is haunted by the reminiscence of her predecessor Rebecca, and with out a new premise the novel shortly descends into been there, achieved that.

3. Depraved: The Life and Instances of the Depraved Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire (1995)

The Broadway present Depraved was primarily based on a ebook of the identical identify by Gregory Maguire, which imagines occasions each earlier than and after L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wizard of Oz. Maguire fills within the back-story of Baum’s depraved witch in a novel which is far darker than its predecessor. Maguire mentioned in interviews that his novel was prompted by the 1993 homicide of two-year-old James Bulger and subsequent discussions in regards to the nature of evil.

The singer Vajen van den Bosch stands as Elphaba during a photo rehearsal for Wicked on stage at the Stage Theater Neue Flora in Hamburg
The present Depraved on stage on the Stage Theater Neue Flora in Hamburg.

He tells the story of the witch, beginning with the witch’s delivery, ending along with her dying, and ramping up ethical tensions all through. Though it isn’t for the fainthearted, with themes of suicide, homicide and household tragedy, the ebook was an immediate hit – following within the footsteps of a grasp clearly labored for Maguire. As with Extensive Sargasso Sea, the ebook’s success hinges on the sensitivity with which he breathes new life into an underwritten antagonist.

4. Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley (1991)

Whereas Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind was critically acclaimed, Ripley’s sequel is likely one of the most criticised continuation novels. Scarlett sees the eponymous heroine making an attempt to make Rhett “give a rattling” once more. Spoiler alert, she succeeds, and whereas this completely satisfied ending made the novel commercially profitable, its saccharine word belied the grit of the unique.

The novel additionally suffers from an absence of enhancing – it’s very lengthy, regardless of a reasonably tedious and uneventful plot. American novelist George R. R. Martin has known as continuation novels an “abomination”, and he makes use of Scarlett for instance of all the things that’s fallacious with the style. Ouch.

5. Demise Involves Pemberley, P.D. James (2011)

Jane Austen’s Delight and Prejudice is adored worldwide. The romance between the aloof Mr Darcy and the quick-witted Elizabeth Bennett has captivated technology after technology, spawning a number of profitable romantic spin-offs and diversifications.

Crime author P.D. James’ sequel, nevertheless, turns its consideration from like to homicide. The ebook returns to Darcy and Lizzie six years into their completely satisfied marriage. Preparations for a ball are interrupted when Lydia arrives unannounced and claims that her husband, the nefarious Mr Wickham, has been murdered. Lizzie is just a little too earnest based on some critics, however P.D James is an actual mistress of thriller and her sequel is sufficient of a page-turner sufficient to win most of them over.


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