This week saw the American release of Francesca Segal’s debut novel, The Innocents, a superb modern-day retelling of The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton’s classic novel of upper class scandal. Now, adaptation, cross-pollination and flat out stealing are nothing new in the literary world — after all, Madame Bovary was heavily influenced by Don Quixote, Finnegans Wake was inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Wide Sargasso Sea is a prequel to Jane Eyre. And those are just a few sterling examples — the trend of adaptation and re-adaptation is rampant, and sadly, there are plenty of cheap reincarnations of classic texts that put their inspirations to shame. However, we’re so excited by The Innocents that we decided to put together an entire reading list of wonderful contemporary novels based on works of classic literature, so you can indulge in the present and the past in equal measure. Click through to check out our list, and as always, if we’ve missed your favorite, be sure to let us know in the comments!
In Segal’s fantastic debut, she reimagines Wharton’s scandal-ridden 1870s New York as a tight-knit Jewish community in modern day London, replacing the free spirited Countess Ellen Olenska with Ellie Schneider, a model recently kicked out of Columbia for appearing in a porn film, and protagonist Newland Archer with Adam Newman, who becomes entranced by Ellie’s “seedy glamour.” Compelling, smart, and silkily written, this novel just might become a classic of its own.