The Modern Restaging: 6 Novels With a Whole New Lease on (Literary) Life

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Restagings are contemporary versions of older, often iconic literary works, retelling well-known stories in modern contexts. At their best, these novels create a perfect tension for the reader between essentially knowing what’s going to happen and not knowing exactly how. They also allow us to measure the distance we’ve come — how women’s lives have changed, for example, over the last 200 years, or how power plays out in families in our time differently than in the past.

My novel, Alena , uses Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 gothic thriller Rebecca as its model. But where the unnamed narrator in Rebecca struggles in the shadow of her new husband’s indelible first wife, Alena is a workplace novel set in the contemporary art world. My unnamed narrator must try to make a place for herself as a curator in a museum where the previous curator — charismatic and daring — has disappeared.

These other six novels also take their influence from past works, twisting and turning their jumping off points into something wholly new.

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