Justine Jordan (The Guardian) reviews a fictional recreation of Samuel Beckett’s life
Amid all the Jane Austen reboots and ripoffs, Jo Baker’s 2013 debut Longbourn, which developed the events of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective, seemed restrained yet revelatory. Fresh, fascinating and beautifully achieved, it was that rare beast: a critical success with wide commercial appeal. What would one expect from the follow-up? Probably not a re-creation of Samuel Beckett’s war years, from his desperation to leave the Ireland that stifled him, through his time in occupied Paris working for the resistance and escape to the south after being betrayed to the Nazis, to his postwar job helping set up a French hospital. And always, through danger, penury and privation, the compulsion to continue with writing that doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere, that he is driven to produce, as a writer friend puts it, like snails make slime.