Seattle Rep’s A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 – Beyond the Theater

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.

Hedwig Niemann-Raabe, the German Nora who refused to leave her family

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.

Eleanor Marx, who brought Nora back home

Both parts of A Doll’s House remain timely and provocative, inviting discussion and further reading. Check our our full list of recommended reading to enhance and extend your experience of Hnath’s and Ibsen’s plays. Here you’ll find filmed versions of A Doll’s House, histories of marriage and of the feminist pursuit of happiness; and various tales of ‘unruly women,’ both fictional and factual.

    ~ Posted by David W.

If You Like Liane Moriarty

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.

For readers who love Moriarty, we’ve assembled a list of several other titles that have a similar appeal. Here’s a small sampling from our list:

  • 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.

Check our our full list in the library catalog, and then let us know in the comments below what other great titles for Liane Moriarty fans we’ve missed!

     ~ Posted by David W.

Library Reads for March 2019

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.

Continue reading “Library Reads for March 2019”

And the Winner Is… Books to Movies, 2019

Yep: that’s Cate Blanchett, right here in our library!

If Beale Street Could Talk, First Man, BlacKkKlansman, The Wife, Can You Ever Forgive Me? – many films nominated for Oscars this year – and every year – started off as books. 2019 will be a great year for bookish Seattleites, with film adaptations of both Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, the latter featuring scenes filmed in our own Central library!(Digression: Seattle film buffs have to check out these amazing Then and Now videos featuring side by side reshoots of such classic Seattle set films as Cinderella Liberty and Harry and the Hendersons.)

Here are just a some of the other books coming soon to a theater near you:

Continue reading “And the Winner Is… Books to Movies, 2019”

Seattle Rep’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK: Beyond the Theater

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.

Continue reading “Seattle Rep’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK: Beyond the Theater”