9 Gender-Swapped Retellings Of Classic Books That Offer A Fresh Take On Beloved Stories
I've said it before, and I will say it again: I love classic literature, but that doesn't mean its without its problems. For starers, some of the most famous English-language novels are exclusively about men, which is what makes gender-swapped retellings of classic books so refreshing for readers who have been dying to see themselves represented in between the covers.
If you have ever perused the Classics section at your local library or bookstore, than you know that there is no shortage of stories about straight, white males in the literary world. From Moby Dick and Ulysses to Oliver Twist and The Great Gatsby, the majority of novels that are counted as the most important, and the most celebrated, are exclusively about men. That isn't to say there aren't great novels written about and by women — Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and The Bell Jar immediately come to this reader's mind — but there are far more written by men.
Of course, there are plenty of original novels out there for readers who want to enjoy stories about women and their experiences, but for those classic-lovers who are dying to see ladies take the leading role in their favorite stories, there is a category of books just for you: gender-swapped retellings.
Have you always wanted to see Jay Gatsby portrayed as a glamorous girl, or read about Beauty taking on the role of the traditionally male Beast? Then you'll love these nine gender-swapped retellings of of some of your favorite classic books.
'Olivia Twist' by Lorie Langdon
In this refreshing take on the iconic Charles Dickens novel, Olivia Brownlow has survived life on the London streets by disguising herself as a boy. After a caper goes wrong, she is taken in by her uncle and thrown into a the life of high society. But no matter how many lavish dinners or fancy soirees she attends, Olivia's past is never far from her mind, nor are the other teens still living in the slums she once called home. A charming and inspiring story about the haves and the have-nots, Olivia Twist will forever change the way you see this literary classic.
'Great' by Sara Benincasa
A contemporary retelling of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, Great tells the story of Naomi Rye, who is forced to spend the summer with her socialite mother in the Hamptons. Prepared to despise everyone of the mega-rich socialites she meets, Naomi is surprised when she finds herself drawn to her next-door neighbor Jacinta, an "It" girl known for her wild parties. But Jacinta is hiding something, and when the truth comes out, it has tragic consequences for everyone involved.
'Of Beast and Beauty' by Stacey Jay
In Of Beast and Beauty, author Stacy Jay spins a whole new kind of fairy tale that beautifully blends fantasy, science fiction, and romance. Rather than having the Beast take on the traditional role of prince and captor of Beauty, this story switches their positions, and puts the gorgeous girl in charge of the monster's imprisonment. It's an intriguing tale of a blind Princess destined to be a human sacrifice, a mutant beast determined to save his people from starvation, and an unexpected love between the two that will change them both forever.
'Across a Star-Swept Sea' by Diana Peterfreund
In this futuristic retelling of the classic The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy's heroic nobleman is reimagined as a fierce an mysterious teenage female spy. If she wants to protect her people from certain destruction at the hands of the revolutionaries and their dangerous, mind-altering drug , Persis Blake — otherwise known as the Wild Poppy — must embark on her most treacherous mission yet, one in which she will risk not only her life, but her heart as well.
'A Study in Honor' by Claire O'Dell
In the first of two gender-swapped Holmes retellings on this list, author Claire O'Dell recasts the famous detective and his trusted partner as two queer black women living in a near-future Washington, D.C. Together, and with the help of espionage, advance technology, and good old fashioned deduction, the covert agent and the talented doctor work together to uncover who is behind the murders targeting Civil War veterans. Sharp, exciting, and unapologetically feminist, A Study in Honor is a Sherlock story like you've never seen before.
'The Forest Queen' by Betsy Cornwell
A refreshing, female-centered take on the classic "Robin Hood" tale, The Forest Queen tells the story 16-year-old Sylvie who, feeling powerless after her brother's takeover of their family's vast estate, retreats into the woods with her best friend to create a community of their own. Alongside a whole group of villagers who support their cause, Sylvie risks everything to fight back against greedy noblemen and an unfair king and get justice for the local commoners who have been abused for far to long. It's exciting and empowering fairy tale retelling starring a fierce heroine you will love cheering on.
'A Study in Charlotte' by Brittany Cavallaro
The first book in a new series about the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, the famous detective gets a feminine makeover. Like her great-great-great-grandfather, Charlotte Holmes is as brilliant as she is volatile, but when a student dies at their boarding school, Jamie Watson has no choice but to team up with if he wants to get to the bottom of a crime that seems to be ripped straight from the pages of a mystery novel. Smart, clever, and wickedly fun, A Study in Charlotte is a fabulously feminist take on a crime fiction classic.
'Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe' by Melissa de la Cruz
While Jane Austen's novels do indeed star some of the most memorable heroines in literature, it can at times feel like her leading ladies lack a certain level of agency. Not in Melissa de la Cruz's festive retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which swaps the roles of Darcy and Elizabeth. Equal parts romantic and hilarious, this contemporary love is perfect for Austen fans who have always wanted to see her female characters have a little more power over their own love lives.
'Cadaver & Queen' by Alisa Kwitney
Although there are technically no gender-swapped characters, Alisa Kwintey's Cadaver & Queen puts a woman front and center in this imaginative take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The first female medical student enrolled at Ingold. Elizabeth expected she would have to go above and beyond to prove herself at a school full of men. What she didn't expect was to find herself caught up in the dark secrets of Victor Frankenstein, a former medical student who died under mysterious circumstances, and whose corpse seems to still be very much alive. Part historical thriller, part romance, fans of the original horror story will love this sexy retelling and it's new leading lady.