If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.
For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.
©2013 Jo Baker (P)2013 Random House AudioGo
Yes, if the story sounds good.
Only to friends who are fans of Downton Abbey.
I was a bit disappointed in the end but still thought it a lovely book.
How can you not relish this slice of life 'below stairs' in the world of 'Pride and Prejudice'? The events that loom so large in Elizabeth and Jane's world are but inconveniences and extra labour for the household staff (oh, the endless washing!). For the first hour of listening I was unconsciously wanting to hear more about the Bennets - as though that was the 'real' story - then I gradually became caught up in the lives of the staff as their characters unfolded, richly and well.
"New take on an old friend"
If like me, you know the story of P&P off by heart, you should read this new take on an old friend. Be warned though, it doesn't carry the comic element of the original but is written with a gritty realism that can make the reader uncomfortable at times.
I think it was her description of Mr Wickham that was most enlightening. In the original so much is uncertain in his character, how he could fool Elizabeth and appear both honourable and despicable at the same time, but this story leaves one with no illusions as to what he was really like.
The original book makes one feel for the poor Bennett sisters who are portrayed as being socially disadvantaged, but this book makes one realise how far further down the disadvantaged scale there is to slide.
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