Should a classic novel be reinvented? This question is nothing new, but neither is the concept. For centuries stories have been retold, reworked, and presented in different forms. Many of Shakespeare’s plays have origins in Greek mythology and folklore and verbal storytelling. The constantly evolving fairytale genre is another example of this.
When I heard that six of novels of Jane Austen were going to be rewritten in a contemporary format I was wary, but only in the “Don’t fix what ain’t broke “ context. The Austen Project pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works: Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park.
Sense and Sensibility has been rewritten by Joanna Trollope and was released on October 2013; Northanger Abbey was rewritten by Val McDermind and was released on March 2014. Curtis Sittenfeld is working on Pride and Prejudice, which will be released in a few months and Alexander Mccall Smith is penning Emma. No news on the other two novels, as of yet. Hint, hint, I’m available.
Jane Austen is one of the most popular writers in the English language and if she wrote today she would be labelled under the chic-lit romance genre. Her books were published between 1811 and 1815 and have been widely read ever since. So should they be tampered with?
I have heard authors talk on this subject and many are of the opinion that it keeps the stories alive. I believe the only opinion that matters, is the authors, as it is their work. This is obviously difficult, as in this case, when the author is deceased. But a good story is a good story, and I can’t form a valid opinion until I’ve actually read one.
The reviews are generally good, and I’m thinking I will dip my toes in the water. I might start with Emma, when it is released, as it is one of my favourites and Alexander Mccall Smith is such a witty, Wildean (Oscar) writer, that I’m sure he’ll capture the Austen spirit to a hilarious tee. Or maybe I’ll start with Pride and Prejudice; I feel Curtis Sittenfeld is an excellent choice for this novel. Sittenfeld really knows how to get into the mind of a young adolescent girl with all her turmoil; she displayed this in Prep (loved this novel). But…. After reading J.K Rowling’s review of Northanger Abbey maybe I should start there.
‘Val McDermid’s brilliant re-working of Jane Austen’s original shows that innocent, bookish girls in thrall to the supernatural have changed surprisingly little in two centuries. Witty and shrewd, full of romance and skulduggery – I loved it.’ J.K. ROWLING
‘I picked up Northanger Abbey one evening and didn’t stop reading until I’d finished it. It’s an exquisitely realised tale of the uncertainty and brutality of teenage years told with the lightness of touch and humour that Val is famous for. Utter brilliance from McDermid’ SUSAN CALMAN
I’m going straight to The Book Depository to order my copy. Any suggestions, besides moi, for who should write Persuasion or Mansfield Park?