It has been said, wisely, that if you sell your house, you should not return to see what the new owners have done to your house. There are several good reasons for this:
- The house (your former home!) will look very different to you. The happy fog of memory makes you think the house was larger and more elegant that it really was – your return visit will confirm it isn’t
- The new owners may have changed the house by painting or construction. Undoubtedly, their choice of day-glow orange instead of the sedate cream you prefer will cause shock and dismay.
- You will either gloat over the great deal you made when you sold the house, or you will regret what you see because you mistakenly believe your fond memories of life in the house have vanished with the sale. Both are uncomfortable positions.
I’m beginning to think that revisiting favorite fictional characters can have much the same effect. We all have television shows featuring characters so intriguing that we are somewhat saddened when their long-running shows go off the air – for example, The Big Bang Theory. From this, sequels are born.
Jane Austin’s novels and characters are often subjects of sequels. Recently I re-read Sense and Sensibility. I followed that by re-reading Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken, a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. It is well-researched by the author who passed away some time ago. My disappointment comes when Ms. Aiken tells us what happens to several of the main characters of Sense and Sensibility; the three sisters Elinor, Marianne, Margaret and Edward and Colonel Brandon.
It turns out, according to the sequel, that Elinor, who has married Edward, lives in abject poverty with her skin-flint husband. They have a very spoiled daughter. They lost a son when he was only five years old. I had high-hopes for Elinor. She was the sensible sister, She turned into a spineless, quietly bitter woman, very submissive to her husband.
Her sister, Marianne, married Colonel Brandon. They are alluded to in the sequel. They are reputedly very well off. Marianne is quite selfish. She lives in relative comfort while her sister and family live on the estate in poverty.
Margaret, the youngest of the sisters, became a teacher at a school for young ladies. This is not considered a very high-status profession. She, too, seems to be afraid of crossing her penny-pinching brother-in-law Edward.
Such a disappointment! You always hope the characters that had potential develop into strong, confident characters in their sequels. But that is often not the case. It probably makes for a better story when they don’t.
I have high-hopes for another, real-life sequel- the U.S. after the Trump presidency. As long as the major character leaves the scene and is not featured in the sequel, we should be fine.