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 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.
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.
I kept hoping the story would get better. I kept hoping the narrator would wake up from her nap. It was an excellent concept that was poorly executed. The slow narration coupled with the dull content and very slow storyline led to a very depressing listen.
No real plot or intrigue. I listened to 10 chapters, yet wasn't hooked in to the story.
She was fine.
I thought this book might be superficial but it is anything but. Very convincing detail and well thought out.
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