Today over on Polly of Novel Insights blog you can see her thoughts on the wonderful novel by Justine Picardie called ‘Daphne’, which as you might have guessed is all about the wonderful Daphne Du Maurier at a particularly interesting and time in her life. I am sure I pushed that book on Polly (did I Pol?) after I myself read it way back in 2009 and thought it was fantastic. You can see my thoughts here.
We are very excited too because the lovely Justine Picardie has kindly agreed to talk to us all about Daphne and we should have two lovely interviews with her for your delectation tomorrow, who knows if you leave any Daphne questions in the comments she may just pop and answer them for you, if we all ask very nicely of course.
So how is your Daphne reading going on? We know Sakura of Chasing Bawa has been getting back into the swing of Daphne, who else has? Please leave us links in the comments on our blogs or simply email us them and we will make sure we give you a nod and a thanks for joining in. Oh and you can let us know on twitter too as we now have #discoveringdaphne doing the rounds.
How is my Du Maurier reading going? Well I am just about to finish reading ‘Mrs De Winter’ by one of my favourite authors Susan Hill and will be reporting back soon. Was this the only ‘Rebecca’ spin-off (I hate that term) that the Du Maurier estate said ok too, or did they say ok to Sally Beauman’s ‘Rebecca’s Tale’ too (which I fancy reading but is HUGE so therefore scary)? That’s something for me to go and look up I think. I shall do that after the final page and before I crack on with ‘Mary Anne’ for the read-along on Sunday.
Hope you are all enjoying the week so far?
I mentioned when earlier in the week when I discussed adaptations that I had been to see the musical ‘Wicked!’ again with The Converted One, my mother, my little sister and her best friend. Now many of you thought it was for the second time, it was actually the fifth!! Anyway it started me thinking about prequels, sequels and spin offs NOT written by the original author and this discussion has come up again a few times in the last week so I decided I should bring the discussion on here too. I hope you will all join in?
It was actually ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and therefore ‘Wicked’, as opposed to instant titles you might think of that have been spinned such as ‘Rebecca’ or indeed ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that got a conversation started on just this subject between myself and one of my fellow Green Carnation judges Nick Campbell when we were out at a book launch on Tuesday night. You see as a child I was rather obsessed with the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (and indeed ‘Return to Oz’ though I think people thought that film was rather uncool so maybe I shouldn’t admit to that) ask Granny Savidge Reads… I used to insist on watching it once a week apparently. It seemed that so is Nick and not just of the films but of the books. So I of course asked if he had read ‘Wicked’ by Gregory Maguire and ‘Was’ by Geoff Ryman (the answers were yes and no).
I personally loved ‘Wicked’ when I read it several years ago and it has indeed become one of my very favourite books because it took something I adored and turned it on its very head (making Elphaba a misunderstood witch who was actually best friends with Glinda at university in Shiz not far from Munchkinland. Interestingly though I was then really rather disappointed when I went onto read Gregory Maguire’s sequel to his ‘Oz’ spin off ‘Son of a Witch’ it didn’t cast the spell (pun intended) that I wanted it to once more. Maybe ‘A Lion Among Men’ will? I wonder if I would be such a fan of ‘Wicked’ if I had actually read the original Oz books or would I instead consider it some kind of barbaric sacrilege?
I mean most of the people I know who love ‘Pride and Prejudice’ think anything that is a spin off of that novel they hold in such high esteem is the work of Satan simply doesn’t cut the mustard no matter how good it is. The very fact that it is a spin off of from such a successful story is deemed an author cashing in or writing a book rather lazily to be honest (not my words a rather toned down watershed version of some of my friends actually). Is this the case or are their some gems out there they are simply being too snobbish to admit to? I mean look at ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys which has become rather an acclaimed novel and yet is a prequel of sorts to Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’.
I applied the notion of prequels and sequels written by another author to my favourite book which is of course ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Whilst I have copies of Sally Beauman’s ‘Rebecca’s Tale’ and Susan Hill’s ‘Mrs De Winter’ I have not touched either of them or really been tempted to and considering the latter is one of my favourite authors I am wondering if there is something in this. Can I simply not bear the idea of my favourite book being ruined by another great author who no matter how good or how hard they try simply cannot recreate the atmosphere Daphne did? I suppose I won’t know the answer till I try… but just having looked at them again, I got that same unsure feeling, so I don’t think I will know for quite some time.
Are there any prequels, sequels or spin offs by your favourite authors or the ones mentioned above that have really, really worked for you and managed to embody/channel the voice from the original? Have any ever been better than the original itself? Which prequels, sequels and spin off’s really should never have happened?
Following on from yesterday’s post about reading at leisure and just going off at a tangent I was mulling through my shelves and spotted one that has been getting no attention since I moved into my new house. Now I am a big fan of seeing other people’s shelves on their blogs, for example Claire of Paperback Reader has done a series of colour co-ordinated shelves which looked stunning. I tried this back in February and though it looked lovely I couldn’t ever find anything and so that became a bit of a nightmare, if an aesthetically pleasing on, I know it works wonderfully well for a lot of people though.
When I moved house back in July I inherited lots of new shelves in my room as well as the shelves “for books I have read” in the lounge. The question was how to organise them so I did a hardback shelf, a review paperback shelf, a non fiction shelf, a mixture shelf (books by Daphne, Man Booker winners and dare I say it books I haven’t finished), a short reads shelf and the shelf of today’s post The Blinking Big Books shelf.
Now some of the titles have been must reads for ages and I think one or two of them may end up in my packing for my long weekend up north that’s coming up. The ones I have heard lots about and am looking forward to reading are…
- Small Island – Andrea Levy (on of my Gran’s fav’s)
- A Widow for One Year – John Irving
- The Little Friend – Donna Tartt
- The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
- Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
- Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
- Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
- The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver (another of Gran’s favourites)
- The American Boy – Andrew Taylor
- Beyond Black – Hilary Mantel
- Crime & Punishment – Dostoevsky
The ones I am not so sure about which have either been bought for me, sent to me or randomly purchased in shops ‘because they look nice’ (and could do with your thought on, though do give them on the ones above too) are…
- Of Human Bondage – W Somerset Maugham
- At Swim Two Boys – Jamie O’Neil
- The Impressionist – Hari Kunzru (one my Mum very much liked)
- Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marissa Pessl
- The Forsythe Saga – John Galsworthy
- Rebecca’s Tale – Sally Beauman (a Rebecca sequel/prequel)
- The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
- The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters – G. W. Dahlquist
- The Madness of a Seduced Woman – Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
- The Grave Diggers Daughter – Joyce Carol Oates
There are a few more (such as the book We Need To Talk About Kevin that I may try and re-read after failing miserably) but that’s quite enough for now. I would just like your thoughts on them especially as I always find really long books quite hard work. I don’t know why this is, one possible explanation is the fact I think about how many shorter books I could be reading. Or the fact they are a bit of nightmare to carry around with you when you are commuting, though I won’t be for quite a while so that’s another excuse down. It could of course just be I am reading the wrong ones?
What are your thoughts on great big books? Which have been your favourites? Do you avoid them at all costs? Do I have any gems above that I simply must read now? Anything big bookish to add?