A Retelling of George Orwell's 1984
by Sandra Newman
You must sign in to see if this title is available for request. Sign In or Register Now
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add email@example.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 24 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 19 Dec 2023
An imaginative, feminist, and brilliantly relevant-to-today retelling of Orwell’s 1984, from the point of view of Winston Smith’s lover, Julia, by critically acclaimed novelist Sandra Newman.
Julia Worthing is a mechanic who works in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. It’s 1984, and Britain—now called Airstrip One—has long been absorbed into the larger trans-Atlantic nation of Oceania. Oceania has been at war for as long as anyone can remember, and it is ruled by the ultratotalitarian Party, whose leader is a quasi-mythical figure called Big Brother. In short, it is the world of Orwell’s 1984.
All her life, Julia has known only Oceania, and, until she meets Winston Smith, she has never imagined anything else. She is an ideal citizen: cheerfully cynical, always ready with a bribe, piously repeating every political slogan while believing in nothing. She routinely breaks the rules, but also collaborates with the regime when necessary. Everyone likes Julia.
Then one day she finds herself walking toward Winston Smith in a corridor and impulsively slips him a note, setting in motion the devastating, unforgettable events of the classic story. Julia takes us on a surprising journey through Orwell’s now-iconic dystopia, with twists that reveal unexpected sides not only to Julia, but to other familiar figures in the 1984 universe. This unique perspective lays bare our own world in haunting and provocative ways, just as the original did almost seventy-five years ago.
A PEOPLE Magazine Must-Read Book for Fall 2023
A Guardian Biggest New Book of 2023
A LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2023
“As George Orwell predicted, Big Brother is indeed watching us, making his classic novel, 1984, ripe for revival. This daring retelling moves Winston Smith to the side and centers his badass girlfriend.”
“Offers a female character with a rich inner life...This Julia cannot help but balance out [Orwell’s] blind spots and bring his opus up to date.”
“In a [clever] retelling of 1984, Winston Smith’s lover takes center stage…Book clubs could have great fun reading the two together.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
—Booklist “A provocative feminist retelling...Julia’s narrative voice is refreshingly fearless...Newman adds a fresh coat of menacing gray to Orwell’s gloomy world.”
"This extraordinary novel is like a newly discovered room in your house, in a dream—the illusion is so precise, the execution so masterful, that you think it must have been there all along, just waiting for you to find it. Sandra Newman has succeeded wildly at the impossible task she was given; JULIA should surprise and delight not only devotees of Orwell’s classic, but fans of Newman’s own daring, disquieting, and emotionally affecting oeuvre.”
—J. Robert Lennon, author of Subdivision and Broken River
“If you thought you knew Julia, as 1984's Manic Pixie Dream Girl, be warned. In Sandra Newman's compelling retelling, Julia has both a conniving agency as well as an escalating and tragic fragmentation. Oceania, Newman insists, has a whole other layer of dystopian horror for its women.”
—Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair
• National television interviews
• National radio and podcast interviews, including NPR
• National print and online media coverage
• Influencer campaign
• Prepublication media event
• Book events at to-be-determined venues
• Dedicated trade advertising
• Extensive consumer advertising
• Reading Group Guide available
Available on NetGalley
Stirring and stunning. A dark, rich, luscious look at a literary classic becomes a classic in its own right.
These days this sort of book just isn't for the faint hearted. If you are reading this review though, I bet you will love it. The estate of George Orwell granted permission for this feminist retelling of 1984. Much of the setting is the same but our story is told through Julia, formerly only known by her first name and a foil to the story on Winston Smith.
Sandra Newman however has painted a complex character in Julia - giving us the inside line on who she is, what she thinks and what drives her actions including the fated moment when she passes a note to Smith. If you are a fan of 1984 I guarantee you will love this story. Newman has paid homage, while also adding electric details to a well known novel.
#marinerBooks #Julia #SandraNewman
1984 was my absolute favorite book in high school, and I loved this twist on our favorite dystopian tale. "Julia" gives new insight into a story we all know so well, and provides the same foreboding, dark mood.
A feminist retelling of 1984, I really enjoyed Julia. This dark twist on the original is complex and compelling, I absolutely loved it!
1984 is one of those novels that had a HUGE impact on me when I first read it as a teenager. I've reread it a number of times over the years. Julia by Sandra Newman is an absolutely MASTERFUL retelling of Orwell's classic novel. She perfectly captures the tone of 1984 while also making the story infinitely more interesting. I could not put this down and I was so sad when I finished it.
I always enjoy reading retellings as a genre and this worked well with 1984. I was invested in the characters and thought they worked well with the original novel. I enjoyed the way Sandra Newman wrote this and thought it worked well overall. I’m excited to read more from the author.
I enjoyed this book. I liked that she expanded on the little we actually knew about airstrip one, I loved that it had a twist that I never in a million years saw coming and that she pulled it off brilliantly. I really appreciated that she took all these ridiculous traits and actions that had been very male gaze focused and gave Julia reason and power behind those actions.
I also loved and hated the end equally.
*3.5 stars rounded up*
Thank you to NetGalley and Mariner books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited when I heard this book was approved by the Orwell estate, and could not have been more thrilled at a chance to read it early. Sandra Newman's "Julia" does a beautiful job of expanding on the world that Orwell created, giving us a different perspective on the characters we have already met. More than that, Newman builds onto the world in her own way, bringing more vibrancy to Oceania by showing us parts of it that Winston Smith never encountered. Indeed, though much of the world she and Smith inhabit is shared, Julia shows us just how much experiences - even of the same oppressive state - can differ between a well-off male member of the party and a younger woman who lives in a shared hostel. We see Julia's thought processes about the life she leads, and how being raised in Big Brother's world has brought her to a much different place emotionally than Winston.
These high points being said, however, there were some odd choices made in terms of language and plot points that seemed not because they flowed, but to add shock value or what Newman thought readers might expect. I thought Julia was going to end at a certain chapter, where it dovetailed beautifully with the original novel - but it went on for quite awhile more that felt unnecessarily drawn out. Like the original, Julia is not for the faint of heart. I will also add that readers should check trigger warnings, as there is at least one scene that includes some rather graphic details and has little forewarning.
Julia is a retelling of the classic novel 1984. We get to see Julia's take on life. We get to see Winston Smith through her eyes.
I liked this novel but found it tedious. I enjoyed learning about Julia and what happened in her life. I don't however love Julia. I just can't find any redeeming qualities that Julia has. Of course I think that's what the author wants to show the dystopian lifestyle and how it makes a person behave and think. I think someone who hasn't read 1984 would enjoy this book better.
Trigger warnings: miscarriage/abortion, violence, attempted rape, blood/gore, torture, death, starvation, war/war crimes, animal cruelty
1984 is on my list of classic favorites so when I saw the premise behind this book I just had to read it. This book was absolutely fantastic. You barely know anything about Julia in 1984 being able to read a possible backstory for her along with details of her every day life was fascinating. You really get a feel for her and her motivations in this. She’s brilliant and compelling and you really feel for her over the course of the book. I really enjoyed reading that and her thoughts and perspectives. The writing in the book was great. The level of world building really brought my understanding of the world of 1984 to another level. The author managed to enliven the world without info dumping at all.
While I’m not entirely comfortable with the direction that her storyline takes (won’t say exactly what that is for spoiler reasons) I can see how that could have played out in the original book. She affected so many more lives that just Winston’s and it’s interesting to see that play out.
The ending was sublime. I love how open ended it is and open for interpretation it is.
Overall I do recommend this book. There are some very intense scenes at the very beginning and toward the end of the book that aren’t for the squeamish but they are well done imo. Overall if you are a fan of the book 1984 or of classic leaning literature and can handle the content this is the book for you.
The concept of Julia is a brilliant one and to have the approval of the Orwell estate is wonderful for Sandra Newman. A take on 1984 from Julia’s standpoint however needed more memory of 1984 than I have, so I feel I missed out on many of the books nuances.
This would be a great discussion book alongside 1984 and I feel like many people will very much enjoy the comparison.
With all the feminist retellings of classic myths and fairy tales in recent years, I wasn't sure a feminist retelling of 1984 would carry much weight. Luckily, it's been a few years since I read 1984 so I was able to read Julia as its own works and i have to say I was really impressed with Newman's writing. The tone and setting are really reminiscent of Orwell and this book will stand alone for anyone who hasn't read 1984, giving the same dystopian message and warning for our future.
As someone who has read 1984 several times, I was eager to see how the author approached the lead female character in the book from a new direction. The problem with writing in the style of an author a long time gone is to make the language and tone (see Anthony Horowitz in his Sherlock and Moriarty stories), Newman does a fine job here (some might take offense at the exceptional crudeness with which Julia talks about sex, but in the original her character is limited to her physical relationship with Winston, so maybe that makes sense). Julia finds the obsession on the political aspect of things rather boring, as she is more concerned with the day-to-day. It is fascinating to see how every scene in Winston's eyes is wholly different through hers.
The ending is what has me wavering on whether I really like this book or am frustrated with it. (SPOILER ALERT) She works for the system, not against it, and then is allowed to escape the system and fight against the powers that be in a way that Winston never was. This defeats the central purpose of the original where it was a closed system that no one can escape. I wanted her to be trapped in the same way he was because it adhered to the premise of the original story that there is no way to escape to mighty arm of Big Brother.
But then I looked at the ending a second time and a new possible thesis emerges. Maybe the fact the resistance, which uses the same tactics as INGSOC to fight against its enemies, a subtle commentary suggesting that in politics all sides are evil and political structures as a whole are inherently corrupt. Or it might be saying that even the resistance is simply another trick of Big Brother to release some of the proles' anger in. a way that can be controlled.
As far as my review goes, if the author is saying this, then I would give the book 5 stars. If all the author is saying that Julia escapes the horridly oppressive society by some cunning and shear luck, then I would give it 3 stars. Since I cannot determine the author's intent, it earns a solid 4 stars.
It is clear that Julia is a love letter of sorts to George Orwell’s 1984. Newman does a fantastic job capturing the tone and feel of the original book with her writing. The main issue with Julia is one that most books like it suffer from. Since it is a retelling from a different character’s point of view, the reader already knows the ending. For that reason, I struggle to decide if a reading of 1984 before Julia would be beneficial or detrimental..
That being said, I can’t help but love the motivation behind the creation of this book. Taking one of literature’s most flat characters and giving her her own motivations and flaws is something I have to commend.
It's been a few decades since I read 1984, and most of what I remember was the feel of the society and a few visuals from the film. Before starting this book, I read the Wikipedia summary for 1984 and feel it helped me get into the book faster, but I also don't think it is entirely necessary.
The book does a good job of recreating the feel of the first and has an engaging story. It portrays Julia as a complex character who shows different parts of life in the society. As one might imagine, the book is depressing in a 'how horrible governments/people can be' way, much like original. The author did a great job in recreating this world.
I found the torture scenes too painful to read and skimmed them. The book also includes discussion/scenes of sexual assault, bullying, starvation, and any number of other cruelties.
Not an emotionally easy read, but, like the original, an important one.
Thank you to NetGalley the publishing for providing me with this book to review.
Sandra Newman's "Julia" is a genre-defying literary achievement that challenges the boundaries of time, identity, and human connection. This thought-provoking novel takes readers on a mind-bending journey through the life of Julia, a character who is as enigmatic as she is compelling.
The narrative of "Julia" is a complex tapestry that weaves together multiple timelines and realities, blurring the lines between dreams and waking life. Julia, the central character, experiences her existence through a series of vivid and sometimes disorienting vignettes. As readers, we are constantly challenged to discern what is real, what is imagined, and what exists in the interstitial spaces between.
Newman's prose is both mesmerizing and disorienting, mirroring the fragmented nature of Julia's consciousness. Her writing is rich in descriptive detail, creating a vivid and immersive reading experience. However, this immersive quality can occasionally be overwhelming, requiring readers to navigate through a labyrinthine narrative.
One of the book's strengths lies in its exploration of the concept of identity. Julia's identity is fluid and elusive, and the novel raises profound questions about the nature of self and the impact of memory and experience on our sense of self. Newman invites readers to contemplate the idea that our identities are not fixed but are shaped by our perceptions, relationships, and the stories we tell ourselves.
The character of Julia is enigmatic and elusive, making her a captivating but often inscrutable protagonist. Readers will find themselves drawn to her complexity and vulnerability while simultaneously feeling frustrated by her opaqueness. This paradoxical relationship with the character adds depth to the reading experience but may leave some wanting more clarity.
"Julia" is a novel that challenges conventions and expectations. It defies categorization, blending elements of literary fiction, science fiction, and psychological drama. This genre-blurring approach can be exhilarating for readers who appreciate innovative storytelling but may prove disorienting for those seeking a more straightforward narrative.
"Julia" by Sandra Newman is a daring and intellectually stimulating work of fiction that pushes the boundaries of storytelling. It is a novel that demands active engagement and rewards readers with its intricate exploration of identity, time, and the human psyche. While its unconventional narrative structure may not be to everyone's taste, those who appreciate thought-provoking literature that challenges the status quo will find "Julia" to be a captivating and memorable read.
Comrades! What a book. I just finished reading this, and the first word I can think to describe it is doubleplusgood, as they’d say in Newspeak. But really, this book was fantastically authentic in keeping to Orwell’s vision and style of writing in 1984. Having just re-read 1984 right before reading this book, I can say that she kept everything true to that in this retelling. (The timeline, the quotes, the characters, ideals, etc.) Honestly the only difference I could tell that it wasn’t Orwell writing was both the swearing and the feminist views (which isn’t a dig on Orwell, but, well, he wasn’t a woman).
I loved how the author came up with these ideas of everything going on in the background of 1984. They all fit so perfectly that it’s like she went back in time and conspired with Orwell about some of the stuff he doesn’t address in the book. I don’t want to give any spoilers in this review, but if you had some lingering questions from 1984, there’s a very good chance they’ll be answered in this retelling.
One thing I really liked was that you don’t get the best view of Julia in the original book- she comes across pretty shallow then. But in this retelling, you get a much better background and picture of who Julia truly is.
One other thing I’d like to add, is that if you are wondering if you *need* to read 1984 to read this book, I would say it’s not a necessity. I’m not sure you’ll get the same thrilling satisfaction as someone who’s read 1984 (especially as someone who loved that book) but I still think it’s a great and important book to read.
Trigger and general warnings:
- Miscarriage/abortion (there’s a pretty explicit scene in the beginning)
- Very violent, with lots of torture, blood, gore, etc.
- Child/sexual abuse
- This book is not for the faint of heart or for young readers. Still an excellent book I think worth reading, but just wanted to put that out there
📖 Read if 📖 :
✔️ You loved 1984 (or liked, or even tolerated)
✔️ The only reason you didn’t like 1984 was because of Winston’s view/treatment of women
✔️ You love a good retelling (particularly a feminist one)
✔️ You love a good dystopian novel
✔️ You like morally grey and complex characters
Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Wowow. I really loved this, much more than I'd expected to. I read 1984 a few years ago, and I think this was such a great idea, executed so well. Seeing things from Julia's perspective, and how smart she was, couldn't have been done better. This book is written beautifully as well, and I actually cried towards the end. This is the perfect example of how to add to and expand upon a preexisting work; doing something new, while keeping the integrity of the source material. Overall, just super impressive.
This is the book I have been waiting for all my life to read. It started when I was a junior in high school, and was assigned 1984 for my literature class. It became an instant favorite and has stayed with me all these years. Then, I heard of "Julia," a retelling of "1984" from the book's love interest and instantly knew I HAD to read this. I was not disappointed. The author stayed very true to the feel and the writing of the classic, yet it had a woman's perspective, and told the tale about the very fascinating character who I did not know enough about in the original, though I desperately wanted to. All my questions about Julia were answered in a very satisfying way, and this book would make "1984" proud. I absolutely loved it, and it too will remain with me for a long time to come. I highly recommend this book.
I was a full grown adult before I read 1984, but when I was done I was reeling and this was the perfect fit for that void. I love seeing the story from a female perspective. Great read, and a great addition to the 1984 storyline.
I am... shocked at how much I liked this book.
First of all, I'm a George Orwell stan. He's probably my favorite author, maybe second-favorite. I think his prose is unmatched for cleanness and clarity. I love his calm yet relentless pursuit of truth and justice through the written word. I've read all his essays and all his books, including the ones that no one reads (*cough* Keep the Aspidistra Flying *cough*). I return probably annually to his essay on Salvador Dalí. I've read Nineteen Eighty-Four maybe a dozen times, maybe more. I might go so far as to say that I think Nineteen Eighty-Four is maybe the only really effective depiction of a dystopia out there.
Sandra Newman's Julia is really, really, really good.
Newman does a spectacular job of weaving a different story around Winston's, and of showing the same Airstrip One from the perspective of someone else – a woman, a younger person, a more adventurous person, with a different history relating to the Party and a different set of memories. It feels like the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four is expanded here rather than changed, and in a convincing way that makes room for Winston and Julia both. I really loved Julia here. I loved how she saw Winston, especially how she saw him as lined up next to other people. (I also, to my surprise, had a real soft spot for Ampleforth!) I loved some of the OCs, (view spoiler). I love the way the book injects some wry humor in next to the horror – because it is ridiculous, isn't it, the way the Party operates, pretending like someone never existed when we all know they did, pretending like we're exceeding our quotas for boots and grain when we all know we're barefoot and starving? Horrifying, but ridiculous.
The story makes some bold plot choices that I think will be polarizing – particularly the last quarter or so, which is the only part of the book that I think meaningfully goes against the core of what Nineteen Eighty-Four is about – but I think they're really active choices, not cheap at all, and I think they make sense given Julia's narrative. I was impressed by these choices myself, and I liked them. I love especially that Julia's story doesn't end where Winston's does. That she sees some of the same things that he sees, but differently, but that her version still entirely makes room for and encapsulates the canon. And I love the way the ending mixes societal hopelessness with personal hope.
Much to my astonishment, I would highly recommend this book – to fans of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and to everyone else.
I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a retelling of George Orwell's 1984. Sandra Newman seeks to tell the story from the point of view of Julia rather than Winston Smith who was the main character in the original classic. The author has done a good job of retaining the narrative style, events and vocabulary from the original yet added a lot of contemporary female perspective to the story. The concept of sex-crime in particular and its horrid repercussions on women has been elaborated in much detail. The author also touches upon stuff like abortions, same-sex relationships and such other matters which are frowned upon in totalitarian regimes.
Be warned that this is a slow burn with lots of descriptive narrative and may not be for everyone. Generally, when I read a retelling from a female perspective, I end up loving the female character. However, this was not the case this time. I had mixed feelings about Julia and found it hard to condone some of her behavior and actions. She comes across as selfish, shallow and slutty in parts. I don't want to do spoilers so I won't go into more detail on this aspect but I kept wondering if she had any political ideologies or just wanted an excuse to sleep around.
I read 1984 ages ago and wish I had re-read it before reading this book although it is not absolutely necessary - the book can be read on its own. However, one can definitely benefit from reading them back to back if the objective is to deeper dive into any analysis of the plot and characters. Overall, a deep-thinking book that is perfect for book club discussions.
Thank you Netgalley, Mariner Books, Sandra Newman and Thebookclubgirl for the ARC.
I first read 1984 around 1984, and then re-read it in 2020; American author Sandra Newman has done a brilliant job of retelling it from the point of view of Julia Worthing, the one and only female character CliffsNotes lists in its 1984 guide. I read elsewhere that in so doing she'd addressed two questions George Orwell's original posed: what ever did Julia see in Winston Smith? and, how did Julia manage to safely make her way from Semi-Autonomous Zone 5 to a career in the Outer Party's Ministries, free to roam at will among Proles and other hostiles?
I do like how charitable 26-yr old Julia found Comrade Smith to be good-looking in his own way, "a lean man of roughly forty, very fair and grey-eyed... Old Misery had a bad case of Sex Gone Sour." I think the author's fleshing out of Julia's traumatic childhood, sexual precociousness and bisexuality made seamless sense here, and I liked the addition or heightened visibility of so many other female characters like little pretty Vicky from the Central Committee, Mrs Melton the blackmarketer, rebellious Diana "Icy" Winters, and Monitor Atkins from the women's dormitory, among others. I may be mistaken in judging the descriptive level of violence and torture, and particularly cruelty against women to be much more graphic in Julia than it was in 1984, but I guess culture and society have ramped that up in the last 75 years anyways, plus Newman doesn't go over-the-top with it.