On Friday a friend told me that there’s yet another re-imagining of Daphne DuMaurier’s novel, Rebecca, in the works. Rebecca is the iconic 1938 suspense tale about an unnamed young heroine who, while working as a companion to a snobbish old woman, meets Maxim, the man of her dreams. He carries her off to Manderley, the family pile, where she’s haunted and humiliated at every turn by constant reminders of his dead wife, Rebecca. Rich stuff. This latest novel has a contemporary setting, and the unnamed narrator meets and marries Max Winter. But when he whisks her off to the family estate, she is tormented by Max’s stepdaughter, who can’t bear the thought of the new wife replacing her mother. The premise sounds intriguing, yes?
There have been a number of retellings, and reimaginings of Rebecca. Mrs. de Winter, by Susan Hill, Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beauman, Always, Forever by Nancy Ohlin, and more. I confess that I’ve read none of these, though now that I know there are out there, I feel like I want to explore them. This is fan fic at the highest level. My own novel, Charlotte’s Story, was inspired by my many, many readings of Rebecca, but there is endemic evil at Bliss House, and the husband is its agent.
The last classic with a twist novel I read was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I know it sounds silly, but I loved it. It didn’t mess with the story too much, but added zombies to the mix. One of the reasons it’s successful is the genius of the original work–Austen clearly loved her characters, but she doesn’t take them so seriously that she doesn’t have any fun with them. I like to think it would crack her up.
I found a list of other classics that have gotten the retelling treatment, and it includes Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (Howard’s End), Susan M. Wyler’s Solsbury Hill (Wuthering Heights), and A Thousand Acres (King Lear) by Jane Smiley.
What do you think about retellings or reimaginings of classic stories? I’m curious…