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Books and Reading Reviews

Longbourn (2013), by Jo Baker

longbournI’m sure that many reviews of Jo Baker’s Longbourn begin like this, but I’ll say it anyway: I don’t usually read Jane Austen sequels. Or prequels. Or indeed anything ‘inspired by’, ‘in the style of’, or ‘after’ Jane Austen. In fact, many years ago now I declared my household a ‘Jane Austen Sequel-Free Zone’, a new development my family had no trouble getting behind on account of them not really caring about Jane Austen at all (it’s tough, but with family you have to love them for all their qualities, good and bad).

The reason behind this strict ruling is simple. I admire Jane Austen. I admire her as a writer, and in particular as a comic writer of incredible skill and subtlety.

Categories
Books and Reading

Perth Writers’ Festival 2014

IMG_0607If you’ve caught sight of my Goodreads to-read list at any time over the past few days (I know, it’s my go-to internet reading material too), you may have noticed a small flurry of new and unusual titles have appeared there over the course of a seemingly regular weekend. The books I’ve added recently might not be the sort of thing you’d expect there; they’re quite a departure from the slew of classical novels, philosophy how-to guides, and academic texts generally selected to make me seem clever and well-read in company. The authors of these newly discovered books don’t seem to have all that much in common. Their interests range from the history of maps and map-making (yes, there’s a book on that) to Australian Aboriginal myth and storytelling.

But there is, in fact, a linking factor; apart from the fact that all the authors I’ve discovered over the past weekend are interesting, well-spoken, and intelligent individuals, they were also all guests at the 2014 Perth Writers’ Festival (cue balloon drop and party poppers).