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On Our Bookshelves:
Longbourn

NOVEL: Longbourn

AUTHOR: Jo Baker

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2013

REVIEW:

Janeites will know that Longbourn was the Bennet family’s house in Pride and Prejudice; this novel takes us downstairs to the servants’ quarter in a twist on the Jane Austen classic, wherein the events are described largely from the housemaid’s point of view.

A perusal of the Amazon reader reviews demonstrates that this innovation is not uniformly popular, with many complaints by squeamish readers about the filth, violence, and sex…but that is really the point of the enterprise.

Ms. Baker has specifically and deliberately written about the things that Jane Austen left out, and if this is not to your taste, you are hereby warned.

For the less fastidious reader, the lives on the margins of the Bennet household are as full of drama, romance, and strategic decision making as Elizabeth’s and Jane’s.  There are a multitude of books inspired by Jane Austen: prequels, sequels, retellings by the male characters, histories of Regency England, biographies, personal essays, analysis, smut, supernatural fantasies, even Jane Austen, Game Theorist (really), but this one stands out for its originality.  And although the heroine is not conventional, and certainly not accomplished, she is rewarded with her own happy ending as is only fitting.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Three Whistles

HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon; Amazon.co.uk

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Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

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Art Courtesy of Black Swan/Random House

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Laura LaVelle can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com