Friday, March 13, 2009

Reading Revisions

I'm re-reading a book that is clearly one of my favorites (based on the fact that I re-read it and its sequels on average once a year and have since I bought it when it was first published in 1984). The book is The President's Daughter by Ellen Emerson White.

The book was recently re-released in a revised form after the fourth book in the series was published nearly 20 years after the first three. And since the fourth book takes places only a few months after the third book there were some continuity problems. Basically in the first books the internet didn't exist - but by book four it was all over the place - and lots of other technology besides - like cell phones and such.

So Ellen Emerson White had the opportunity to revise and republish the first three books. She updated them to take out archaic references and also had the chance to simply revise a bit.

I got the book from the library - because it felt funny to buy a book I already own - and I'm trying to read them simultaneously so I can see what the changes are.

And you know what? I can't read a book like that. It's getting annoying.

But I'm enjoying the new version (and starting to think I might have to own it - and the sequels). The changes she made all seem to work well. I haven't come across anything that I missed because she removed it. Okay - except the main character making her cat dance to "Stray Cat Strut" - but I'm guessing that's a song that most teens don't know these days.

What a great opportunity: to be able to revise twenty years later. I see where she added things that will come into play in later books - making it all work together in a much stronger way. I see where she made minor changes - simply because they worked better the new way (which I wouldn't have thought of without seeing the new and old together.)

And what lesson does this teach me (other than it's hard to read an old and new version at the same time)? It teaches me that revisions always work. Even twenty years later - on a book I absolutely love - she went in and made it even better. (I will admit I'm only up to chapter 3, so maybe I'll feel differently as I go further - but I doubt it)


  1. I just finished all four books for the first time. I thought it was interesting that even with all the revisions there are still a bunch of references which are rather dated. Most of them she worked in fairly well, but there were a couple of things that left me scratching my head.

    I really liked them too, although I think the 2-4th books work a lot better than the first. I'd love another sequel.

  2. Keri, I'd like another sequel too!

    It's interesting as I continue to read them side by side that there are times when the revisions don't work perfectly - she'll cut a reference to something and then leave in a follow up reference. Usually not big stuff - but noticeable when reading like I am. I don't know if it would be noticeable on it's own.

    And I can never really read these books fresh. The only one I've only read once is the last one (and that's because I haven't owned it for twenty five years).