Have you ever wondered what became of a beloved or engaging literary character after the last page turns, or the curtain falls? What happens next? In his award-winning play A Doll’s House, Part 2 – playing at the Seattle Repertory Theater from March 15 to April 28, 2019 – Lucas Hnath applies this curiosity to one of the most startling and provocative endings in all of theater, when Nora Helmer walks out on her husband and family in Henrik Ibsen’s epochal 1879 play A Doll’s House, slamming the door behind her.
Hnath isn’t the first contemporary author to imagine sequels to classic titles. P.D. James threw a homicidal wrench in the happily-ever-after ending of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with her period mystery Death Comes to Pemberley. Eoin Colfer took a suitably irreverent approach to his hilarious sequel And Another Thing: Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Part Six of Three. In cases where everybody dies at the end, there’s always the prequel, such as with John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius, which provides a more sympathetic take on Hamlet’s mother and father-in-law to be, or Jean Rhys classic Wide Sargasso Sea, a post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre which explores the life of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘madwoman in the attic,’ prior to her life in England as Bertha.
Still, there’s something about the abrupt, open-ended ending to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that invites speculation about how things might wind up after the curtain goes down, or if things had gone a different way. In fact, this is not the first time time the play has been revamped. Nora’s final act was so controversial that when the play finally appeared on stage outside of Norway, the leading actress refused to walk out on her family, obliging Ibsen to write a new ending in which Nora decides to and stay, sinking to the floor in tears at the thought she would leave her children “Motherless! Motherless!” Popular Victorian playwright Henry Arthur Jones staged Breaking a Butterfly, a decidedly melodramatic bizarro version of the play in which the wife is a silly thing, and the husband a hero. And then there was Eleanor Marx, the pioneering feminist daughter of Karl Marx who championed Ibsen, and co-wrote (with Israel Zangwill) a own sequel to A Doll’s House –A Doll’s House Repaired – which ends with Torvald slamming the bedroom door on a contrite Nora.
Here at the library we love talking with readers, both in person and online via our Your Next Five Books recommendation service. As we do so, there are certain authors who readers will mention to us over and over again. Australian writer Liane Moriarty is one of those authors. For many readers, Moriarty strikes the perfect balance between witty, insightful writing on the challenges of family life and relationships, and mounting tension that builds to a suspenseful climax.
The Secrets She Keeps, by Deb Caletti. Gathering at their aunt’s once-famous divorce ranch for celebrities, a trio of women confront their own difficulties with love and marriage against the backdrop of the ranch’s tumultuous history.
The Mother in Law, by Sally Hepworth. A woman’s obsessive fears about how much she disappoints her successful, pillar-of-the-community mother-in-law lead to a controversial disinheritance and a suspicious suicide.
I Found You, by Lisa Jewell. A lonely single mom who offers shelter to an amnesiac man and a young bride who is told that her missing husband never existed struggle to make sense of their transforming worlds and connection to a sister and brother whose lives where shattered by secrets more than two decades earlier.
Jean Harley Was Here, by Heather Taylor-Johnson. After Jean Harley is killed accidentally, her husband, mother, two best friends, and the person responsible for the accident all have different perspectives on her life and death.
Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh. Sarah thinks she has met the love her life in Eddie – until he disappears after leaving for a long-booked vacation. Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers there is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
Here’s a list of 12 novels releasing in March that librarians across the United States are recommending. And because librarians made this list, you’ll also find a “read-alike” entry at the end of each description. Why a read-alike? They work two ways: If you recognize the suggested read-alike title as one you enjoyed before, it lets you know that this new title is one you might like, too. The other way read-alikes are helpful is that they tend to be older and more widely available titles. If there’s a long wait list for the featured title, and it sounds like the perfect book for you, the suggested read-alike may be something you’d also like — and can get quickly. You’ll notice that in the descriptions for the new 2019 books that librarians often add a line along the same lines, such as “if you liked Gillian Flynn, try this one.” In a nutshell, this monthly list has solid recommendations, with insightful guidance for a variety of reading tastes.
Seattle Repertory Theatre presents THE WOMAN IN BLACK adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan Hill from February 22 to March 24, 2019. The basis for the play, Hill’s novel, is a chilling gothic ghost story set in the remote British moors featuring a solicitor who comes to settle the affairs of a recently deceased client and encounters an unearthly presence terrorizing the townsfolk. For more gothic goodness, check out the novels and films below:
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Stewart’s 1958 novel of romantic suspense follows young Linda Martin as she arrives in the French countryside to nanny for nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy and encounters his enigmatic adult cousin, Raoul.