Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

Title: Longbourn
Author: Jo Baker
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: October 8, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own. "

My Two Cents:

If Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is the "upstairs" side of the story, then "Longbourn" is the "downstairs" side of the story. "Longbourn" is the story of the servants of the Bennett family. This book is definitely a treat for those that are "Pride and Prejudice" fans like I am. It is helpful to have read "Pride and Prejudice" prior to reading this book as there is not really a re-hash of what happened in that book and you may be a little lost.

This book covers both the servants' lives prior to the start of "Pride and Prejudice" and after the first book ends. We get to know these characters, who were largely unknown to us in Austen's original. Some of them barely appeared and some didn't have names. Baker takes these characters and shows us their hopes, fears, and loves. I loved reading about these characters. You get a taste of the familiar story from "Pride and Prejudice" mixed with a brand new story. In the Author's Note, Baker mentions how closely she looked at "Pride and Prejudice" to inform "Longbourn." She even made it so meals line up between the two books. This attention to detail makes this book really a treat.

I really liked the character of Sarah. As Elizabeth is falling for her Mr. Darcy, Sarah is falling in love herself. It was so interesting to see the juxtaposition between Elizabeth's romance and Sarah's romance with a freed slave. 

1 comment:

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