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Jun 08

Sequels – Are they Worth the Risk?

We’re all familiar with the concept of sequels in the movie world. As soon as a movie enjoys reasonable success you can almost guarantee that #2 and quite possibly #3 are already on the drawing board whether there is a plausible way of continuing the story or not. (Did I hear someone mention Police Academy?)

Of course, this happens with books as well and many authors regularly revisit characters and scenarios that have sold well for them previously, often with reasonable success.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - You can't beat the originalSometimes, however, the sequels are written by someone other than the original author. Take a popular classic, revamp it and voila! an instantly marketable “new” book is born. (I do believe I heard someone mutter the name Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).

Pride & Prejudice seems to have inspired more than its fair share of sequels and companion novels. Many years ago I suffered through Pemberley by Emma Tennant and swore that I would never subject myself to another ill-conceived sequel to one of my favourite books ever again. As a result, when we received The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough last year, I happily handed it over to Meredith and sat back to enjoy the fireworks without risking my own blood pressure.

I have weakened though and have just finished reading Darcy’s Passions by Regina Jeffers, a companion to P&P written from Darcy’s perspective. Aside from a few minor annoyances (was it really necessary to have Darcy dwell on Elizabeth Bennet’s “fine eyes” every 3 pages?) I enjoyed this book. I’m not so sure about Jeffers’ next book, Darcy’s Temptation. Reading the sequel of a sequel is tempting fate, I think.

Do you ever read sequels to classics or do you avoid them? Which sequels have worked for you? Which were terrible? Which ones made you wonder if the author had read the original book at all?

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4 comments

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  1. Meredith @ thinkthinks

    Do you still have the texts I sent you when I was reading The I of Miss MB?

    I tend to avoid sequels, preferring homages. (which is why I think I would enjoy the Zombie book. Tickles my funny bone.) The Jane Austen Book Club for example, was really good.
    The Hours was an excellent book too, but I think the writer took a risk in putting some of Woolf’s actual writing into the book. Anything just pales when put beside her. But still – I liked it very much.

    I did read Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With the Wind. But since GWTW really isn’t “great” literature in the first place, it didn’t really bother me.

  2. Susan Stephenson

    Just came by to congratulate you on your BEA Twitter party win – and won of my favourite books, too!

  3. Frogdancer

    Well, I’m enjoying “P&P And Zombies”. I particularly liked the 1st question in the Book Club’s reading guide at the end. It read something like, “Obviously, zombies are an integral part of Miss Austen’s vision for this novel and her characters. However, could you imagine what this novel would be like without the zombies?”
    Laugh? Oh yes.

  4. Susan

    Susan: I won something? What? Where? I visited so many websites on the day of the BEA Twittyparty, I have no idea which giveaway I might have won. I will now have to go searching… (ETA – Maw Books was my first stop. Woo Hoo. I love The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but don’t have a copy of my own. I guess I can’t say that anymore. 🙂

    Frogdancer: I was a bit dubious about P&P&zombies, but I love the reading group question. Obviously this is a book that is quite happy to laugh at itself. Meredith is keen to read it, so I guess I will get a chance to check it out at some point.

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