Pride and Prejudice was only half the story
If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.
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.
©2013 Jo Baker (P)2013 Random House Audio
"A triumph: a splendid tribute to Austen’s original but, more importantly, a joy in its own right, a novel that contrives both to provoke the intellect and, ultimately, to stop the heart.... Like Austen, Baker has written an intoxicating love story but, also like Austen, the pleasure of her novel lies in its wit and fierce intelligence.... Baker not only creates a richly imagined story of her own but recasts Austen’s novel in a startlingly fresh light.... Inspired." (The Guardian)
Longbourn was very well written, beautiful prose, compelling characters. I couldn't stop listening to it and the narrator made it that much better. I listen to a lot of books and she is one of the best narrators I have heard (as good as Davina Porter, but younger sounding). Longbourn is a must read or rather listen as the case may be.
I have generally hated P&P spinoffs -- too wordy, too internally focused and generally poorly written.
Not this one. Jo Baker is a literary writer and this novel stands on its own , as absorbing and interesting (even without the modest involvement of the P&P characters). These people have real lives, real struggles and problems and loves, and we sympathize with their strategic and hopeful efforts to maximize their future security and happiness. The Napoleonic Wars may not have had much effect on the Bennets, but it's very present for the lower classes, where the men were strongly urged to enlist without any understanding of the horrors of that war.
The limited glimpses we see of the Bennet family seems to round them out into real people, too -- Elizabeth is still a very nice person and generally considerate mistress, but it is clear that her maid's happiness and security is never really on her mind except as it pertains to Elizabeth's comfort. This is probably an accurate depiction of women such as she. Mrs. Bennet's efforts to have a male child - over and over and over - elicit some real sympathy for her and deepen our understanding of the source of her current flightiness.
I loved this book.
This is the best audiobook I have listened to. The narration is superb. So much so that you feel like you are experiencing the story.
My favorite character is Sarah. She has led a hard life and very much dreams of a better one. I can feel her longing.
Sarah and Mrs. Hill as performed by Emma Fielding are my favorites.
I would rename Longbourn "In Pursuit of Dreams" or "The Longing"
An unbelievably well-written book . The prose will blow you away. It will captivate you and take you into its spell and not let you go until the very last word.
If you like this genre and period, this novel is a pleasurable listen. It's a wonderful picture of "downstairs" life at that time. I especially enjoyed the narrator.
us about yourself! I'm a retired English teacher and ardent reader(more because of physical disability than from job).
Yes, but only after a long gap because it was exhausting, and now I cannot be surprised.
When the lovers are reunited after complex lives without each other.
The heroine, Sara. She was so outwardly imprisoned by her era and yet was bold and gave vent to her adventurism.
Two characters together: Mr. Bennet and his clandestine lover. That was a touching story.
The descriptions--especially of the countryside-- are absolutely beautiful.
This book borrows the situations and characters from Jane Austen but that's where the similarities end. This rendition is full of adjectives but slow on action. Unfortunate, because the concept was intriguing.
I have listened to it twice and intend to keep it for a good long time. It is written in the manner that feel as though you are looking out through the eyes of the main character. There are points that refer back to Pride and Prejudice, but only as references that enhance to the story.
Well written, believable situations and characters, can only leave you with wanting more of the same. Unfortunately, many of them have the consistency of wet toilet paper.
The scenes described, the feelings of the characters are what you would imagine if you were in that situation, very easy to insert yourself, watching it all unfold as you were invisible.
Nothing, very easy evperience
I look forward to more of the same from Ms Baker
Editor of the coffee table book for 25 years, from Disney Song Book to history of America as seen in on-the-spot drawings--before Ken Burns.
Author does a nice job of bringing Jane down to the kithchen; good story telling in the tradition of you know who.
This book was described very simply as a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants, which made me both excited to read it, and also hesitant because I've read some pretty bad ones. That being said, this is NOT a retelling, in fact the Bennets take a back seat to the"belowstairs" lives of their servants. Told from the perspective of Mrs. Hill, the Bennet's housekeeper, and the the scullery maid, Sarah, we have a fresh perspective of life during the Regency era, and a slice of life for a soldier during the Napoleonic Wars. I don't think I will ever look at Pride and Prejudice the same. I'll never be able to watch the BBC adaptation (1995 Colin Firth), and not want to follow "Hill" off camera after she's administered cordial for Mrs. Bennet's "poor nerves." A definite read for lovers of historical fiction.
I love this! It goes along the P&P story line but lets the reader get to know and understand Hill and the others important to but on the periphery of the original story. While obviously a fabrication of someone many eras beyond the author, Baker has a feel for these characters and presents story lines that make sense, are surprising, and engaging. I love this!
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