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.
"The harder side of Austen's Regency world."
The poignancy of the story of those who worked for the protagonists of P&P, their relationship with those upstairs, the grim lives they lived compared to the languid, privileged existences of the masters and mistresses they served from dawn to dusk.
The surprising yet credible light thrown on many of our favourite P&P characters seen through the eyes of those who knew them more intimately than they knew each other.
They are all rendered so masterfully by Ms Fielding that it is hard to prefer any one of them.
Yes ... to listen to several times!
Many revisitations of Pride and Prejudice fall short of the original because they lack elegance and balance, style and authentic plot, provide no real insight to the world of the age or over indulge in details of Darcy and Elizabeth's passion. This is a well-written elaboration of Austen's work that can compare, for mastery and literary worth, with both the original novel and P.D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley.
"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.
"Fantastic embellishment of a much loved story"
Normally I would shy clear of a fan fiction novel but this is done with such elegant prose and heart felt characters that it leads you every step yearning to know how the people fare.
The narrator is superb.
One of the better Austen adaptations. Beautifully written, my only reservation being that it is rather a sad story, compared to Austen's usual cheerfulness. However, I must pile praise upon praise for the beautiful reading voice of Emma Fielding! I have been a monthly subscriber of Audible for a few years now, and this is by far the most lovely voice I have heard. I listen to these books to help me sleep, and despite finding some of the storyline a little more sad than I'd like, I still listened over and over to Longbourn because of the soft lilting voice, so intelligently and carefully putting across the exact nuances of meaning in every sentence.
Ms Fielding often crops up in radio plays and occasionally on TV. I keep an eye (and an ear) out for her now. A joy to listen to!
"Clever below stairs take on Pride and Predjudice"
Not a mind blowing novel but highly enjoyable. Good narrator.
I suppose all the below stairs novels amount to much the same thing, but this one didn't get too fanciful.
A fresh observation of the Characters in Pride and Predjudice. Fun.
I liked the way it rounded up at the end without too much sentimentality.
"What a great twist!"
Very interesting read.
Obviously Pride and Prejudice, Pemberley by Emma Tennant and Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D.James. With such a well known story you think you know it all and its great to hear how different writers see the story and how their take on it goes. This sees the well known story through a completely new set of characters and I think we learn a lot about ones we thought we already knew!
The automatic choice is the storyteller, the maid who eyes we see the story unfold by but, HIll, or to give her her proper name is Mrs. Hill is revealed as quite a different character to which we had previously known her.
The hardships endured by downstairs servants is very well portrayed in this book and throughout you really can emphasis with almost all of them. The situations they endured to hold down a job are hard to understand in modern times but this what exactly happened.
Enjoyed this story all over again and will certainly listen to it again in the future. Emma Fielding gives a very sympathic slant to all the characters.
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