8 Fictional Retellings that Give a Fresh Spin to the Classics

8 Fictional Retellings that Give a Fresh Spin to the Classics

We love literary adaptations here at Better Reading. Whether they’re based on fairy tales, mythology or literary classics, retellings are a great way to breathe new life into old stories. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite fictional retellings. Some of these books are rewritten from a new perspective. Some of them stick to the original events, while others take the story in a whole new direction. All of them give a fresh spin to the classics we know and love, opening them up to a slew of new readers.

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

In Beautiful Little Fools, bestselling author Jillian Cantor reimagines F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless classic, The Great Gatsby, telling the story from the perspective of the female characters, Daisy, Jordan and Catherine, whose lives are unravelled by one man’s romantic obsession. In another fascinating departure from the original text, the novel is reframed as a detective narrative… and one of these women pulled the trigger.

Buy a copy of Beautiful Little Fools here.

Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzinar

From debut author M.A. Kuzinar, Midnight in Everwood is a spellbinding retelling of The Nutcracker, filled with enchanted toys, decadent balls, fierce feminine friendships and a forbidden romance. This is the perfect read for fans of The Toymakers, Caraval and The Bear and The Nightingale.

Buy a copy of Midnight in Everwood here.

The Good Wife of Bath by Karen Brooks

In the Middle Ages, a poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version? Who would you believe? In this clever retelling of Chaucer’s ‘Wife of Bath’ from The Canterbury Tales, Karen Brooks recasts this literary classic, giving a maligned character her own voice, and allowing her to tell her own (mostly) true story.

Buy a copy of The Good Wife of Bath here.

Medusa by Jessie Burton

From the bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes this dazzling, feminist retelling of Greek mythology, perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Filled with stunning illustrations from Olivia Lomenech Gill, Medusa is an astonishing YA novel that illuminates the girl behind the legend, bringing alive Medusa for a whole new generation.

Buy a copy of Medusa here.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Set in Ancient Greece during the Age of Heroes, Madeline Miller’s multi-million copy bestselling novel The Song of Achilles is a powerful and poignant tale that reimagines Homer’s The Iliad as a queer love story, as told from the perspective of Patroclus, the doomed lover of Achilles.

Buy a copy of The Song of Achilles here.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Hailed as a masterpiece of modern literature, Wide Sargasso Sea serves as a postcolonial and feminist prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s literary classic, Jane Eyre. Told from the point of view of Mr Rochester’s first wife, Creole heiress Antoinette (Bertha) Cosway, the novel explores their marriage and the events that led to Mrs Rochester becoming the ‘madwoman in the attic.’

Buy a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea here.

Gulliver’s Wife by Lauren Chater

In this stunning reimagining of Jonathon Swift’s satirical classic, Lauren Chater recasts Lemuel Gulliver’s wife, Mary, as the lead. Believing her husband to be dead, Mary, a trained midwife and herbalist, is forced to rebuild her life without him. But when Gulliver returns, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down.

Buy a copy of Gulliver’s Wife here.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

In The Penelopiad, Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood reimagines The Odyssey from the perspective of Odysseus’ wife Penelope and her twelve hanged maids. It’s a dazzling, playful retelling, as wise and compassionate as it is haunting; as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing.

Buy a copy of The Penelopiad here.


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