Have you ever gone on to the “sequel” of a classic?


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader who finishes reading Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is in want of more to read. We already prepared one list of what to read when you want more Pride & Prejudice… and we still want more! What was married life like for Lizzie and Darcy? Whatever became of Mary and Kitty Bennett?….

Then we have a list of eight recent Pride and Prejudice “sequels.” Here is the one that actually sort of appeals to me:

…Writing to her sister, Jane, Liz confides her uncertainty and anxieties, and describes the everyday of her new life. Her first year at Pemberley is sometimes bewildering, but Lizzy’s spirited sense of humor and satirical eye never desert her. Incorporating Jane Austen’s own words and characters from her other works, the book is a literary patchwork quilt piecing together the story of Lizzie’s first eventful year as Mrs. Darcy.

I wouldn’t have thought any of them would intrigue me at all, because in general I am not inclined to look up “sequels” to classics. For example, I love “Les Miserables” as a play, and after falling in love with it on the stage, I read the entire unabridged brick of a thing and actually enjoyed that too, even the looooong digressions about the sewers of Paris or whatever.

Then I found out about this:

The tale of Cosette continues in this sweeping, exhilarating epic that interweaves its own galaxy of characters and narrative with real events and historical figures. So says Goodreads. I find the whole idea of this book somewhat repellant. I suppose the word I’m looking for is pretentious. I didn’t know anything about Laura Kalpakian, but my instant reaction was: Who does she think she is? And, yes, I have something of the same response to the idea of sequels to Pride and Prejudice.

I think I’m more interested in stories that try to capture some of Austen’s flavor without actually trying to be a sequel qua sequel. I don’t feel that Liz’s letters would be really hers, since Austen didn’t write them; and I don’t think I could set that feeling aside and enjoy them even if they’re well-written and totally in keeping with Austen’s character.

Maybe I’m being too close-minded, though. How do you all feel about “sequels” written by someone other than the original author?

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16 thoughts on “Have you ever gone on to the “sequel” of a classic?”

  1. Like you, I tend enjoy “inspired by” tributes more than actual sequels. The examples in particular where an author has died without finishing a beloved series have not, in my experience, worked out very well. The last few Amber books after Zelazny died were not great, for example.

  2. …. Well, I must admit, I thought the entire 2nd set of five Amber books was not that great. Granted, it’s been a long time since I read them.

  3. If you love les mis, there’s a recent SNL sketch you should check out (very silly): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj-D0jc17D0

    More on-topic, I’ve read a couple books that riff on Peter Pan, and had meant to check out that official sequel that Dave Barry wrote.

    I’ve read things that play with existing classics, but not many actual “sequels.” Like, there are series set in Wonderland, or Oz, Neverland, a thinly disguised Narnia, etc. Maybe people feel more comfortable playing with kids books?

  4. Fair point on the second Amber series. I agree it was not nearly as good as the first. But the later ones after Zelazny died were worse, IMO.

    That raises a different question about unevenness of sequels – plenty of actual sequels aren’t all that good! You had a thread about the rare sequels that are better than the first book, and as I recall Craig mentioned the Hobbit followed by LOTR, then dropped the mike…

  5. A former friend once recommended a particular P&P sequel – it was awful. I never trusted book recommendations from that source again.

    What about Sherlock Holmes stories?

    The Teen read the Dave Barry/mumble Pearson Peter Pan story. It was actually a prequel, but then they kept writing, and (according to said Teen) went downhill fast. The first was a keeper, though.

  6. I’ve tried several, and found almost all don’t measure up to the original. A lot of the Jane Austen imitators do not manage to come anywhere near her style, her wit, or the flavor and feel of her books; I’m so disappointed after trying a few that I now actively avoid anything marketed as such, though I love Austen.

    There were a few I found tolerable, like Joan Aiken’s Mansfield revisited (mostly because I preferred Susan to Fanny as a protagonist), and the Jill Paton Walsh continuation of Dorothy Sayers’ detective books about Lord Peter Wimsey and his Harriet, and Sherwood Smith’s continuation of André Norton’s Solar Queen.

    I preferred the ending Brandon Sanderson wrote to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series to some of the middle books, because he did tie off the loose ends and finish the story arcs in a neat and workmanlike manner, instead of allowing them to wander all over, proliferate and get lost. Still, none of his own works has appealed to me, and I won’t get invested in a series like that again, so that’s not saying much.

  7. Sequels by other authors are essentially fanfic imo.
    Once another writer takes over a story from the original writer, the characters are never quite the same. They’re new people with the same name, clones if you will, with slight but noticeable genetic differences. The more sequels the new author writes, the more noticeable the genetic drift becomes. Robert Goldborough’s first “sequel” of the Nero Wolfe books was close to something Rex Stout might have written, but the more books Goldborough wrote, the further he got from anything that Stout would have recognized.

  8. How similar to the original does the sequel have to be? Take A Midsummer Tempest, starting with its being a novel, not a play.

  9. Hmm. Fan fiction is one thing. (And P&P makes for good fanfic.) I’m not sure about an actual sequel.

  10. Allan, true that many real sequels disappoint, but I think Evelyn is right that “sequels” by a different author are likely to disappoint in a different way, as they just don’t feel true to the first book(s). Thinking of them as fanfic seems to be about right.

    Having said that, I’m tempted to try the Mansfield riff by Joan Aiken and those Peter Wimsey books that Hanneke mentions. I am not that invested in Austen’s Mansfield Park;, and I do like Aiken a lot as a writer. And I would like more stories about Peter and Harriet — though I’d hardly expect any to come close to Gaudy Night.

    I can’t say anything about Sherlock Holmes because I never cared at all for the original, so I never felt the slightest urge to look at “sequels.”

    Now, A Midsummer Tempest is something else! I think that kind of thing is an homage, clever, and a lot of fun.

  11. I found that the Aiken Peter Wimsey books and neither the strengths of Sayers nor the strengths of Aiken. And she gets the class issues wrong.
    But a lot of people like them, I’m probably being grumpy.

    The Austen-ish book I think really does work is Hazel Holt’s My Dear Charlotte- an epistolary Regency mystery, where the author used bits of Austen’s letters built in to her characters’ ones. I think that really helps keep the flavour right.
    Sherwood Smith’s Fair Winds and Homeward Sail, the backstory of one of the characters from Persuasion, is very good too.

  12. From some of Sherwood Smith’s posts on period detail, I’d imagine she could do a really excellent job. … Okay, just picked up Fair Winds and Homeward Sail, and thanks for hte tip.

  13. I’ve enjoyed the Laurie King novels starring Mary Russell and an aging Sherlock Holmes.

    I will confess to reading and enjoying Mr. Darcy’s Diary, although none of the others in that series made it past the first few pages. I have tried a few of the other ‘sequels’ but none of them have captured the magic of reading the originals.

  14. I fear I could not get interested in Sherlock Holmes even in Laurie King’s novels. Sherlock Holmes is just not for me, I guess.

  15. The Sherlock Holmes thread is quite interesting. I never personally cared for the original stories, but I love the concept of the character, and I enjoy many Sherlock Holmes novels, movies, games and TV shows. There, the different spins are actually a plus. For example, I quite like the collection Shadows Over Baker Street, which is Holmes meets Lovecraft. Quite far from the original stories, but a lot of fun!

  16. Allan, I like the *idea* of Sherlock meets Cthulhu, but since I’ve never liked anything at all featuring Sherlock Holmes, I’ll just appreciate the idea from a distance.

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