At Long Last, The Sequel

October 9, 2008

There are a handful of authors who have sequels just out, or about to be released, with the original books having been published 20 or more years ago. John Updike’s The Witches Of Eastwick was originally published in 1984 to popular acclaim with a Hollywood film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer released in 1987. The sequel, The Widows Of Eastwick, will be released this later this month. It follows the lives of Jane, Alexandra and Sukie as they cope with their grief and decide to return to Eastwick.

Katherine Neville published The Eight in 1988. The story surrounds a chess set that once belonged to Charlemagne which allows those who play with it to tap into powers that could change the course of the world. The Fire, to be released next week, continues the chase with historical settings filled with interesting characters, complex puzzles and conspiracies to keep the reader enthralled.

Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett was written in 1989 and created a cult following which has only expanded since the sequel, World Without End, was released a year ago. Many book clubs have happily taken it up despite its length. Pillars describes the building of a cathedral in 12th Century England. The sequel takes up the tale 200 years after the cathedral’s completion. each book stands on its own but together they create a reading experience of epic proportions.

Nelson DeMille wrote The Gold Coast in 1990 and has finally followed it up with The Gate House, to be released later this month. Wall Street lawyer John Sutter gets mixed up with a Mafia don who lives next door and has eyes for Sutter’s beautiful wife. The sequel sees Sutter returning to his former home after a 10-year absence, discovering his ex-wife living just up the street and the Mafia don’s son out for revenge.

More than 30 years ago, Paul Theroux took a trip across Asia by train and wrote what has become a modern classic of travel literature–The Great Railway Bazaar. He took the trip again, more recently, and wrote Ghost Train To The Eastern Star as a follow-up. Though not exactly a sequel, the latest book describes the adventure as Theroux retraces his steps.

One other sequel just out is Home by Marilynne Robinson, author of the very popular, Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead. This sequel was not so long in the making but given its predecessor’s popularity, it also deserves a mention. Jack Boughton has returned home to Gilead. His sister Gloria is also there caring for their dying father. Told from Gloria’s point of view, we learn how Jack’s uneasy homecoming proceeds.