I’ve been sent a fair number of e-mails over the years begging me to write a sequel to How I Live Now.

What happens to Daisy and Edmond? Do they end up living happily ever after?  Do they have kids?  How many? And what about Piper? Do they all keep in touch? Is there another war?  Were the dogs OK?

Well, gosh, I dunno.

I love the idea that readers think writers can answer questions about what happens outside the covers of their books — but are withholding the information in order to appear enigmatic.

The thing is, if I knew, I’d have put it in the book.

The great thing about an open ending is that the reader has to figure it out. Like who really killed Edwin Drood?  And (my favourite) Did Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler get back together in the end?

I have a friend (A. McGowan, you know who you are) who hates Pride and Prejudice because of its pathetic bourgeois premise that love conquers all.

I, of course, love that premise — life’s far too full of doom and gloom without having to read a thousand versions of Wuthering Heights.

But in any case, Tony’s wrong.  If ever the unwritten sequel of a book were full of misery and madness, it’s P&P. Think about it. Lydia and Wickham will be back seconds after The End begging for money and threatening social blackmail, Mrs Bennet will drive poor Fitzwilliam Darcy so crazy that he’ll sue for divorce, Charlotte will go on trial for murdering Mr Collins. It’s obvious.

The proper place for a sequel is in the reader’s head. Daisy turns out to be a lesbian? Why not?  Aunt Penn wasn’t dead after all, shows up speaking fluent Norwegian and fixes up the garden? Whatever.

I’ve done my bit. Your turn.


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16 thoughts on “How I Live Now, The Sequel

  1. raych 7 years ago

    When I finished HILN my response was equal parts WHY IS THERE NO SEQUEL WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE IS A TRILOGY and also A SEQUEL WOULD RUIN IT THANK GOD FOR STAND-ALONES. So, well done on just sticking with the one, then.

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      Shouldn’t you be teaching your baby vocabulary flash cards?

  2. Jane 7 years ago

    I’d quite like a prequel, actually. Any chance?!

  3. Alice 7 years ago

    I’m happy too many authors, film creators, etc. create a sequel just because the first was successful How I Live Now was a brilliant book how it was! I’m just waiting for the next…

  4. Julie Robinson 7 years ago

    AUNT PENN DIES??!!!! Aaaaargh! #stillreadingHILN

  5. bookwitch 7 years ago

    Better late than never, I suppose, but you are very late reading HILN, Julie.

  6. Sam 7 years ago

    I’d much prefer an ambiguous ending to an all-out happy one. To rip-off another Darcy, I like this book very much. Just as it is. Although The Bride’s Farewell will forever be my favourite!

  7. Kirsten Baron 7 years ago

    I love it when you get to finish a novel in your head. I’m not saying you should leave out the entire ending, but a good story can continue on its own after the book has closed. Mal Peet’s “Life: An Exploded Diagram” (which I read because of your recommendation, thank you!) is a superb example, leaving the reader with a little hope but no certainty.

  8. Tony 7 years ago

    I don’t really hate P&P – who could? – it’s delightful. My criticism is that it’s a profoundly conservative, indeed reactionary piece of fiction, that weighs in on the side of the baddies in the war of ideas raging at the time. Women out there – you like having the vote? Jane wouldn’t let you. You like owning property? She’d rather you didn’t. And instead of re-reading P&P why not try A Simple Life by Elizabeth Inchbald – a contemporary of Austen, a radical, and a wonderful writer.

  9. Henry 7 years ago

    Actually, I think it’s quite a good idea not to write a prequel/sequel. Part of what makes the book so magical is in the characters, and while I would of course love to find out what happens to Daisy, Edmond, Piper, Isaac, Osbert, Daisy’s dad, Davina the Diabolical, the devil’s spawn, etc., I think if I were to find out what did happen to them the magic would kind of be gone. And then instead of thinking about the characters, and all the scenarios I the reader could imagine them in, I’d just be like “Oh”. If that makes sense.

  10. E.J. Runyon 7 years ago

    I’m not suggesting this should happen with novels we love,
    but there is ‘fan fiction’ for folks who just can’t bear not having more of the works that move them so much.

    You might find small cells of them once the film comes out.

  11. Claire Hennessy 7 years ago

    I’ve sometimes wished a book was longer, but when a book is really extraordinary and it’s intended as a standalone, a sequel is almost invariably disappointing rather than delightful. Much better to imagine what might happen next, and books do tend to nudge one in a particular direction most of the time. (Though CLEARLY Daisy’s a lesbian who realises her resentment towards her stepmother was actually repressed desire. Obvious reading of the text.) 😉

  12. Roy 7 years ago

    funny- I had no desire for a sequel at all when I finished it. My thoughts were along the lines of “That was a perfect gem of a story, and it will live on inside my head forever.” That’s the best kind of story.

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