The rapidly expanding sub-genre of spin-offs provides another, ready-made path to follow when deciding what to read next. The problem here may be the very multitude of choices – there are dozens, if not hundreds, of sequels, sidequels, and companion volumes to Jane Austen’s novels, for instance. (A sidequel, by the way, is a story that coincides chronologically with the original work, and may or may not be directly tied to events in the original.)
I’ll confess I’ve read only a very few spin-offs and haven’t discovered any special secret for determining which ones I’ll like; the best I’ve done so far is to find an author whose style suits me and read all of his or her works. My personal preference is for stories that keep to the tone of the original and remain within the realm of reasonable probability. Judging by the very fact of the existence of such books, some people must be interested in Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Vampire Darcy’s Desire, but I’m not one of them.
I do enjoy William Horwood’s continuations of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows – The Willows in Winter, The Willows and Beyond, and Toad Triumphant. Pamela Aidan’s Pride and Prejudice sidequels – An Assembly Such As This, Duty and Desire, and These Three Remain – have a home in my shelves as well.
On the other hand, Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, a sequel to Gone With the Wind, was interesting enough when I came across it years ago, but I’ve never considered buying and rereading it. And I really wish I hadn’t read Ahab’s Wife (by Sena Jeter Naslund), and that I could erase it from my memory bank.
I’d like to hear from you. Do you read spin-offs? What sort? Which ones would you recommend?