Reviews of Julia by Sandra Newman


A Novel

by Sandra Newman

Julia by Sandra Newman X
Julia by Sandra Newman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Oct 2023, 400 pages


  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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, working 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 is ruled by an ultra-totalitarian Party, whose leader is a quasi-mythical figure called Big Brother. In short, everything about this world is as it is in 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.

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Overall, what do you think of "Julia"? (no spoilers in this thread please)
  2. Have you read 1984? How familiar were you with the world of Julia before reading it? What language and concepts had you heard before?
  3. What do you think about Winston and Julia's relationship? Does Winston really love Julia? Does she love him? Do you think love is possible in Oceania?
  4. Place yourself in Oceania. What role do you think you might play? How might you react against, comply with, and cope with the strictures of that society?
  5. Do you see parallels between how we are living now to the world of Orwell's 1984? How about parallels to past world events? If you've read 1984, does Julia introduce different parallels?
  6. Do you think ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

Newman compellingly expands Orwell's Oceania through a female lens...Packed with sex, surprises, and a shocking plot twist, Julia is a welcome reminder of just how vital Orwell's text still is—and how much fun can be had in its unexplored corners.

The Economist
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.

The Guardian
A fascinating reflection on totalitarianism as refracted through Orwell's times and our own.

The Telegraph (UK)
A masterpiece…Newman's novel is so ingenious, sensitive to the original, and above all witty that one can imagine Orwell thoroughly enjoying it.


Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In a [clever] retelling of 1984, Winston Smith's lover takes center stage…Book clubs could have great fun reading the two together.

Publishers Weekly
Newman delivers a provocative feminist retelling of George Orwell's 1984...Julia's narrative voice is refreshingly fearless as she navigates her way around the Party's nefarious thought policing, and a wicked plot twist spins the original narrative on its ear. Newman adds a fresh coat of menacing gray to Orwell's gloomy world.

Shelf Awareness
Electrically memorable, Julia is as startling and incendiary as 1984 ever was, with dark humor and pathos commenting on perennially timely questions.

Author Blurb Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair
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.

Author Blurb J. Robert Lennon, author of Subdivision and Broken River
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.

Reader Reviews

Linda O'Donnell

A Julia Retelling
If a retelling of classic novels is in your wheelhouse, Sandra Newman's Julia will not disappoint. It begins simply enough, describing the initial meeting between Julia and Winston Smith, showing her at work in the Fiction department of the Ministry ...   Read More

This book was absolutely fantastic.
Julia is a fantastic book. Julia in 1984 being able to read a possible back story for her along with details of her everyday life was fantastic. We can get a realistic feel for her and her motivations.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Julia, try these:

Books with similar themes

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

for a year of great reading
about exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: North Woods
    North Woods
    by Daniel Mason
    "History haunts him who does not honor it." This incidental line from Daniel Mason's North Woods ...
  • Book Jacket
    One Puzzling Afternoon
    by Emily Critchley
    While British author Emily Critchley's graceful novel One Puzzling Afternoon is about cognitive ...
  • Book Jacket: A Haunting in Hialeah Gardens
    A Haunting in Hialeah Gardens
    by Raul Palma
    Raul Palma's debut novel A Haunting in Hialeah Gardens introduces Hugo Contreras, who came to the ...
  • Book Jacket: California Golden
    California Golden
    by Melanie Benjamin
    As in her other work, Melanie Benjamin brings her historical novel California Golden to life through...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Trouble the Living
by Francesca McDonnell Capossela
A mother and daughter confront the past in this enthralling debut set in Ireland and California.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Roaring Days of Zora Lily
    by Noelle Salazar

    A glittering novel of family, love, ambition, and self discovery by the bestselling author of The Flight Girls.

  • Book Jacket

    The Witches at the End of the World
    by Chelsea Iversen

    Two sisters find themselves at odds in this historical fantasy set during a dark Norwegian winter.

Who Said...

The moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold into a library, we've changed their lives ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!


Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.