It’s all happening in the village

In a letter to her niece Anna in September 1814, offering tips on writing novels, Jane Austen declared: “3 or 4 families in a country village is the very thing to work on.” Villages and families and notions about what constitutes both have changed a bit since Austen’s day, but the advice still holds good.  In the Review section of The Guardian at the weekend, Xan Brooks showed how writers for stage and screen as well as novelists are currently being drawn to the village, “retreading old ground to uncover fresh stories”. Among those he mentions are Mackenzie Crook with his television sitcom about treasure hunters, Detectorists, in which there’s gentle soul-searching as well as soil-shifting, and Jon McGregor’s Costa Prize-winning Reservoir 13, which I’ve already recommended.

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