There is something so satisfying about a well written sequel/prequel. I’m not talking about the hastily contrived films made in Hollywood to cash in on the success of an original.
What I love are the books written after the author has immersed themselves in the original, its era, the lives of people at that time, the normal behaviours, expectations. How society worked, what levels of technology they had or did not have. How long transport took from place to place, what levels of education people would have had.
They open the original up to more speculation, more sympathy or dislike of characters. You feel as though you are re-visiting a place in memory or reality after earlier experiences.
Never read them one after the other, life doesn’t happen that way. Leave at least several months between the original and the pre-or sequel. Enough time for life to intervene, as it does. Then you go back. Snippets tug at your memory, if you are lucky there is someone else who has read the same, and you can tease out the memories together.
The other day I re-discovered a book called Rebecca’s Tale written by Sally Beauman.
The original, or so I believe, is Rebecca by, Daphne Du Maurier that mistress of a good story. Her book is written from the viewpoint of the very young woman that Maximilian de Winter marries within a year of his first wife dying. The history unravels partly during the book, but always Rebecca herself remains a mystery.
This next book does not give us Rebecca’s life directly. It’s another puzzle, being solved by a young man, with interests and flaws of his own.
I’ve been reading it, bit by bit at night, as though I can only participate in the unravelling of the puzzle at times outside of the rest of my busy schedule. I will have finished it before I take leave. That suits me, it’s fitting in well with my working life, adding a slice at the end of day.
But then, what do I have to read over the Christmas holiday?