The Seniors Book Club will meet Wednesday, June 10th at 2 pm in the second floor Training Room. This month we’re discussing Longbourn by Jo Baker – an acclaimed British novel that re-imagines Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the servants of the Bennet household.
The servants at Longbourn estate–only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen’s classic–take centre stage in Jo Baker’s lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn’t in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.
Ali Smith has won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for “How to be Both”. Launched in 1996, the Prize is awarded annually and celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world (formerly known as The Orange Prize).
Read the winner or any of the great nominees (both short and long list) at SAPL:
The heart of this moving story belongs to Tom Ryder–a man whose expectations for the future and assumptions about his own strength and power are persistently and devastatingly undermined by the arrival of a sour gas plant on the border of his southern Alberta farm in the early 1960s. The emissions from the plant poison not only his livestock but the relationships he has with his family, most especially with his wife, Ella. The family is left without viable legal recourse against the plant, and Tom must watch his farm dwindle away, his sense of himself dwindling away with it. The novel moves into the present with the story of Tom”s son, Bill, who reacts to his father’s disappointments by rising through the managerial ranks of an oil company in Fort McMurray, hiding from his guilt in the local casino. Bill pushes himself towards a crisis in conscience through a relationship he has with a Native woman whose community is threatened by the actions of his company.