Longbourn’s Songbird is a retelling of Jane Austen’s popular Pride and Prejudice, set in the post-WWII American South. At first, I was disappointed by an apparent lack of creativity: author Beau North’s cast of characters was a carbon copy of Austen’s beloved—if somewhat dysfunctional—characters and events begin to unfold exactly as they did in the original. However, I hadn’t gotten more than a few pages in when my initial fears were alleviated and the story began to develop depth through intertwining complexities. North shifts perspectives frequently, allowing for a fluid understanding of character motivations to develop the further you sink into the book. Original romantic complications are introduced and WWII and music become integral parts of the plot.
I have a few small criticisms for a first-time novelist: some of the descriptions hover at the edge of cliché, while others are too blunt for my liking and there are a few details that seem out of place for the period the book is set in. However, the multiple character perspective, the supplementary character traits, and naturally developed romances more than make up for these details. North gives a voice to a whole new demographic of characters and expertly navigates the social confines of conservative Southern expectations of the time. I found this to be a much more relatable read than Pride and Prejudice and found myself more than intrigued by the characters.