Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Classic Book Follow Ons: Good or Bad?

I was cataloguing some books last week and came across the book you can see on your left - 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye (Buy it Now) by John David California. This unauthorised sequel to the classic cult novel Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, which revisits Holden Caulfield 60 years on, has been quite controversial. Personally I have no desire to read the book, preferring to remember Holden Caulfield just as he was in the original novel. But as I thought longer on the topic, I realised there are actually quite a lot of classic books that have been followed on (not by the original author). In fact, there's apparently a term for such books. They're called "Parallel Novels" and they can also be prequels, spin-offs etc. Some well-known examples include:

  • Mrs De Winter by Susan Hill - sequel to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys - prequel to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • An Unequal Marriage by Emma Tennant - sequel to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley - sequel to Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • March by Geraldine Brooks - parallel novel to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

There's obviously a market out there for these types of novels, but how do we all really feel about them? Have you read any of these types of books and did you enjoy them? Do they take away from the original book? Are they even necessary? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.