Subject Guides » Books » Reading Lists » Both Sides Now

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's lifes illusions I recall -
I really don't know life at all.

- Joni Mitchell

Are you someone who likes to look at things from a different angle – who appreciates the unexpected point of view? Join these novelists as they retell famous stories in the voices of “secondary characters”, and take time to revisit the originals too!

The classic Old English epic of heroism, dragons and monsters…

Grendel by John Gardner
Now hear the story from the monster Grendel’s cynical viewpoint.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
One of the greatest romantic novels, with a touch of gothic...

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Just how did the mad wife end up locked in the attic? Hear her tale, beautifully told.

Richard III by William Shakespeare
The ultimate depiction of the wicked king, murdering his innocent nephews…

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Or is the standard version Tudor propaganda?

The Adventures of Robin Hood
Rob from the rich and give to the poor, with derring-do – right?....

Sheriff of Nottingham by Richard Kluger
A virtuous man, the sheriff does his best for all the people, even poacher/outlaws.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
How Dorothy and her friends free Oz of the terrible Wicked Witch…

Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Elphaba (aka Wicked Witch) fights the despotic Wizard despite a hard youth. As someone said, “It’s not easy being green.”

Emma by Jane Austen
One of Austen’s best-loved novels, about the self-absorbed Emma & her circle…

Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken
Another acclaimed author tells the story as Emma’s friend & rival Jane Fairfax.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Shelley’s classic tale of scientific hubris and love vs. alienation…

The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak
A subversive retelling by Victor Frankenstein’s sister/wife Elizabeth.

The Iliad by Homer
The epic battle of Greeks and Trojans, triggered by Helen…

The Memoirs of Helen of Troy by Amanda Elyot
Helen sees things differently.

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
What a love story! – and will it triumph over the evil Rebecca?...

Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman
Rebecca tells her side, in a manuscript found 20 years later.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
An awful comedown! Pip’s benefactor isn’t Miss Havisham, but the coarse convict Magwich…

Jack Maggs by Peter Carey
Carey’s brilliantly Dickensian novel gives the true story of Magwich/Jack Maggs.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Great Detective out-thinks everyone, except Irene Adler…

Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas
Irene tells her story, with a woman’s touch.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Not fiction, but novelistic in its complexity, scope, and storytelling…

Jem (and Sam) by Ferdinand Mount
Jem resents Pepys’ success, & even more being relegated to minor status in the diary; here’s his life story.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Marooned but resourceful, Crusoe survives & rescues “Friday”, who becomes his faithful servant…

Foe by J.M. Coetze
Told by a woman Coetze adds to the story, the tale is turned upside-down and raises issues of gender, racism & colonialism.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The inner, evil Mr. Hyde gradually takes over the gentle scientist Dr. Jekyll…

Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin
What was it like to be Dr. Jekyll’s servant? Local author Valerie Martin shows us.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
All that matters to Ahab is his quest for the White Whale; his wife, like everything else, is left behind…

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
Una finds fulfillment & happiness in a life fully lived while the harpoon-wielding whale-killers come to a bad end.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Chivalry and heroic deeds, versus the villainy of Morgan le Fay & Mordred…

Mordred, Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg
Mordred sees things differently, though his story is as dark as can be.

Cupid and Psyche (in Mythology by Edith Hamilton) Psyche’s dream-come-true, undone by her jealous sisters…

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Wonderful “autobiography” of one of the sisters, giving her version of the tale.

Forbes Library
Northampton, MA
January (the two-faced), 2008
compiled by Rick Hart

Category: Reading Lists

View as: Mobile | Desktop