Talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad, By Bee Rowlatt and May Witwit

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The Independent Culture

Written as email exchanges between a BBC World Service journalist ensconced in the middle-class haven of North London and a beleagured Iraqi academic (and Chaucer expert) in Baghdad, this could have been a lazy format for a book in our blogosphere age.

Yet the correspondence - begun in 2005 when Bee Rowlatt emails May Witwit in an attempt to gain professional insight into the lives of ordinary Iraqi's who have been blighted by the invasion and ensuing occupation - turns into what appears to be a true and deep friendship - despite their differences (one dodges bombs, the other struggles with the work-life balance)including its tenderness, disputes, and a movingly happy ending.