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The Penelopiad. Anno Dracula. Return to the Secret Garden. Lydia and Kitty Kill Mr Wickham.*

This is book chat about that thing where authors take a pass at a pre-existing work by another author, be it a revisionist adaptation (telling the story from another character's perspective, developing/introducing new themes and subtexts, resetting the story in a different time period or with different characters, etc, etc) or doing a prequel or a sequel.

Do you have favourites, or recommendations, or did you read one that shouldn't have been allowed to exist?

This discussion includes revisionist adaptations/retellings of legends & mythology without a single creator, i.e. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon etc etc.

One of my absolute favourites of this genre of professional fan fiction is The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak. This is pretty old, I think it's kind of contemporaneous with the Kenneth Branagh Frankenstein movie (which I loved, come at me haters). In this version of the story, young Elizabeth and Victor are being trained in a version of alchemy strongly featuring the sacred feminine, then Victor starts to question the role nature generally and women specifically have to play in scientific discovery, and things go to hell in a handbasket as per Shelley's original. As the title suggests, the story is told in the form of Elizabeth's journal, and the chapters feature suitably sexist and obtuse annotations by Walton (you know, the explorer dude who Frankenstein told the story to in Shelley's original.)

I should stress this is a very floridly gothic kind of novel, so if that's not your thing, then you probably won't enjoy this. I have no idea whether Roszak's heavily feminist interpretation of alchemy has any basis in history or not, and he lays on the "misogyny in modern science" theme very thick. But I haven't come across many people who remember this novel, and if you're into this kind of thing then I definitely recommend it.

What books in this genre have you read and enjoyed (or not)?

* One of these books does not in fact exist. Unfortunately.


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