Austen’s Longbourn to Beckett’s wartime France: Contemporary fiction and literary greats
In this Jane Austen bicentenary year, Jo Baker will talk about her novels, Longbourn and A Country Road, A Tree . She will explore the connections they have with two of literature’s iconic names, and how she has used these links as a springboard for two brand new works of contemporary fiction that have their separate, unique identities, perspectives, and themes .
Jo Baker is the author of six novels; her work has been translated into 21 different languages. Her most recent book, A Country Road, A Tree, about Samuel Beckett’s experiences during World War Two, has been shortlisted for a number of awards. Her previous novel, Longbourn, about the below stairs world of the Bennet household in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was an international bestseller and is currently in development as a feature film with Studio Canal
Longbourn is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice below stairs - the story of romance, intrigue, and drama among the servants of the Bennet household. Meticulously researched and skilfully plotted, the reader has the satisfaction of matching both novels, chapter for chapter, as the story unfolds.
Based on the wartime experiences of the Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett, his work with the resistance in occupied France, and in post-war rebuilding in Normandy, A Country Road, A Tree charts the impact of these experiences on him as a writer and a man. The novel has been shortlisted for a number of awards including the 2017 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
Jo Baker is the author of six novels; her work has been translated into 21 different languages. . She was educated at Oxford and Queen’s University, Belfast, and now lives in Lancaster with her husband, the playwright Daragh Carville, and their two children.
Praise for Longbourn
‘Inspired...Baker has written an intoxicating love story but, also like Austen, the pleasure of her novel lies in its wit and fierce intelligence. Longbourn is a profound exploration of injustice, of poverty and dependence, of loyalty...a novel that contrives both to provoke the intellect and, ultimately, to stop the heart’ The Guardian
‘To twist something so familiar into something quite fresh is impressive…Baker takes ownership of this world without mimicking Austen’s style, asserting instead her own distinctive, authentic voice. Longbourn is not just nicely packaged fan fiction, or an Austenian Downton Abbey; it’s an engrossing tale we neither know nor expect.’ Daily Telegraph
Praise for A Country Road, A Tree
‘Skilful...daring...an extraordinary story’ The Guardian
‘Vivid and well-wrought’ Times Literary Supplement
‘Utterly fascinating’ Ian Rankin
‘Insightful...beautifully paced... authentic’ Irish Times
‘Perfectly captures the deprivation, despair and constant creeping fear of an occupied people’ Red Magazine