There’s a fashion for rewriting literary classics in modern dress, whether Shakespeare’s plays or Victorian novels, just as Ancient Greek plays were fair game for such treatment in the past, and as Norse mythology has provided such inspiration in recent years.
But much more remains to be exploited, not least the possibilities suggested by title manipulation. Here are some examples, offered gratis to anyone who feels they want to run with them.
Provided they include the acknowledgement “from an idea by …” on the title pages. Or not.
Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and Ride (Crawford’s Register, in association with Penguin Rehashed Classics)
- Fanny Price comes up against an irascible parking attendant Mrs Norris when the young woman loses her ticket, but she hopes her background in Nottinghamshire amateur dramatics will stand her in good stead.
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane’s Air Guitar (Fender & Fairfax Books)
- The second Mrs Rochester aspires to win first prize in the finals of the West Yorkshire inaugural Air Guitar competition at the Thornfield Rock Festival, but will she meet her match in the person of the mysterious Bertha Mason?
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden Centre (Sowerby’s Seed Catalogue)
- Mary Lennox attempts to persuade reclusive Colin Craven to invest in a new business venture — a retail operation selling plants and related products — on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, but will the inaccessibility of the locale spell disaster?
William Makepiece Thackeray’s Vanity Fair Trade Products (Pollock Press)
- Becky Sharp enters the cutthroat hurly-burly of the competitive world of manufacturing, bypassing middlemen and scorning good practice. But doubt remains: who in fact is pulling the strings?
J M Barrie’s Peter Pandemic (Hook Publications)
- The Darling children — Wendy, John and Michael — have to self-isolate in Neverland, socially distancing from the Lost Boys while remaining in lockdown. Relying on Tinkerbell to notify them of store deliveries to the Wendy house, they must beware of loan sharks crying crocodile tears, and meanwhile the prospect of flight overseas evaporates.
Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Isn’t Good Enough (Rasputin Press)
- The successor tsar to May-Theresa the Terrible, Boris Ivanovitch is at first popular but is soon suspected of duplicity and treachery. A pretender to the throne, Mikhail Govitch, lurks in the shadows while his country’s policies alienates the surrounding nations.
Could this be a go-er, do you think?