Longbourn, part deux

*Pride and Prejudice (Marvel Classics)

So I raved about Longbourn by Jo Baker in this blog post. Before I finished the book. Classic.

I have now finished the book and must do something of a recant.

It wasn't a terrible book. In fact, it was terribly well-written. But my feelings for it have shifted.

I started dreading the book in Part 2, so much so that it took me forever to finish. I don't want to give away any key plot points, but I will say there are some surprises, some twists, some subversion.

I still love the idea of it - Pride and Prejudice told from the servant's perspective, but I felt as if it were trying to upend and destroy all the things I loved about Pride and Prejudice to begin with. It was making me feel bad about the main characters in the original, as if they were all spoiled rotten selfish pigs. It was making me feel guilty for enjoying the original, as if somehow I were guilty by association for England's horrid class system, just by reading and enjoying Pride and Prejudice. And the tone was just so dark and melancholy and bitter and tragic.

And that's the thing. That's why I read Jane Austen. She's witty and light and bright. There are happy endings. Call me a sap, but there it is.

Longbourn on the other hand, is all about realism. It was fun to take a sip of realism for awhile - a fascinating antidote to the champagne fizz of a Jane Austen novel. But it's not a drink I'd order at the bar again.

I suspect that Jane Austen has survived as long as she has because others feel the same. Longbourn, is brilliant and exquisitely written, but will people re-read it over and over, will they inhabit its pages as they do with Jane Austen novels? Probably not.

So, if you are an inveterate Jane lover, be warned.

And Jo Baker, I do still admire your moxie.

p.s. And there is so much more to say about this book, and Jane, and what it has to do with Jane - if I ever see you at a book club with a glass of wine, we'll discuss.

p.p.s How cool is that graphic novel cover for Pride and Prejudice? Maybe I need to read that next? Or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I don't really like zombies though...

No comments:

Post a Comment