American author Julia Newman has been tasked by George Orwell’s estate to pen a retelling of his classic novel 1984, from the perspective of Julia, Winston Smith’s lover.
The 1949 original dystopia is considered a classic of the genre and is also iconic in popular culture, not least as it birthed the ideas for two British TV shows, Big Brother and Room 101.
The novel is set in a future Great Britain, now known as Airstrip One which is part of the totalitarian state of Oceania. In this future, Big Brother rules supreme and the Thought Police stamp out any individual thinking. Winston Smith works at The Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to suit Big Brother’s narrative and Julia works in the Fiction department machines, which churn out books that are state-approved. The two begin a doomed love affair until they are captured and sent to Room 101 for re-education.
In Julia by Sandra Newman, the incidents of the novel are told through Julia’s perspective.
Indeed, Orwell’s estate have said to have been looking for some time for an author to tell the story of Julia and that Newman would be the perfect fit. The estate’s literary executor, Bill Hamilton, said: “Sandra gets under the skin of Big Brother’s world in a completely convincing way which is both true to the original but also gives a dramatically different narrative to stand alongside the original.” He added: “The millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will find this a provocative and satisfying companion.”
The novel is slated for publication after Sandra’s next novel, The Men which is due for release in June and I for one can’t wait. I remember reading the original 1984 as part of my English Literature A Level and loved it’s dark underbelly and themes of constant surveillance, group think and the role of government vs freedom of the individual and I think it will be fascinating to relive the novel again from a different perspective.