Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Retelling
SETTING: 1948 Meryton, South Carolina
MAIN CHARACTERS: The Bennet Family, Will Darcy, Charles Bingley, George Wickham, Leland Collins, Charlotte Lucas, Richard Fitzwilliam, Anne de Bourgh, Georgiana Darcy
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
I love seeing Pride and Prejudice in different time periods and settings and I was interested to see how the setting of the Deep South post-World War II would impact the characters and situations from Jane Austen’s beloved novel.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Soaked In the Time Period: Pecan picking, cotton plantations, Clark Gable, jazz, segregation, and changing attitudes – in big sweeping themes and small everyday details this story represents life in small town, USA post-World War II. The change, the culture, and the challenges of that time were not only well-represented, but subtly and skillfully woven into the tapestry of this story, giving readers a very rich and profound understanding of the world these characters were living in. I loved how this was accomplished, I could tell Beau North spent a lot of time researching and that a lot of thought went into the creation and shaping of this novel.
- New Conflicts: It isn’t just about pride and prejudice, my friends! Changing the setting changes the types of conflicts these characters face – having poor dowries and disapproving relations doesn’t present the same obstacles as they did during the Regency Period. So instead, Ms. North introduces new conflicts that were indicative of her setting. Such as a soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a sister living with a life-threatening illness, an abusive and violent family member, and a couple who hide their love because it is considered socially unacceptable. While these added a little more darkness and weight to Jane Austen’s “light and bright” tale, I found myself appreciating the realism and honesty they brought to this story.
- I Didn’t See it Coming: During the first half of the book we learn that something significant happened to Lizzie several years ago – something that has changed her and made her want to hide away at Longbourn. When this secret is revealed my jaw dropped to the ground. I didn’t see it coming and I loved it! Talk about a surprising twist! The tension and emotion that surged through the story at this development was incredibly palpable and skillfully rendered. Wow!
- Little Spots Of Sunlight: With a tale that tackles difficult situations and realities, I thought it was brilliant that Beau North made a point to add little touches of happiness that would make readers smile. These little happy moments, like witnessing the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and the truth of George Wickham’s elopement with Lydia, were sweet moments of light that brought about a wonderful balance for this tale.
- A Stirring Love: I love it when Darcy and Lizzie’s love is depicted as big, ungovernable force. It hits them hard, triggers their passionate nature, and cannot be denied. My favorite parts of this story was seeing Darcy under Elizabeth’s spell – how he admired her personality and actions, how he was so crazy in love that he acted irrationally. His love for her was a powerful thing to behold.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- …So yeah….just gonna leave this one blank. 😉
WARNING: Due to the use of some profanity, mild violence, and adult situations, I’d recommend this story for Mature Audiences.
Longbourn’s Songbird is a soulful and poignant Pride and Prejudice retelling that encompasses a much bigger story than Darcy and Elizabeth fighting and finding love. Emotive, deep, and sincere – this debut novel is well-deserving of all the praise and accolades it is receiving! I highly recommend!