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)
Not earth shattering but enjoyable and well done. If you like P&P and if you like Downton Abby, you'll probably like this. It is like the servants are doing their own dance, which causes them to occasionally run into the P&P story on the dance floor, but otherwise they have their own steps, their own cares and concerns.
One of the best
I can't give away spoilers, but Baker brillantly weaves the plot of Pride and Prejudice with the intense character development of the servants, and it is a joy to see all of the layers unfold. I never expected Mr. and Mrs. Hill to be such nuanced, complicated characters.
Yes. Pretty accurate description of life 'below stairs', and interestingly written.
Not too much. Perhaps shortened Sara's search for James.
Couldn't really pick out a favourite scene.
No extreme reaction.
Thought that the Bennett family were portrayed as perhaps being a little wealthier than Pride and Prejudice indicated. A lot more entertaining took place than I thought.Loved Emma Fielding's narrative style.
Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books
Longbourn is absorbing, intelligent and entertaining. I would not read it again soon, because it is like a large, delicious meal...one is left deliciously full and tired after reading it, and time is needed to fully digest it... but I can see myself reading it again in the future.
The writing is excellent; the story is engaging, the characters are well developed. The author does an excellent job of guiding the reader to a vantage point from which to observe the action that is not the usual one. Below stairs, some of the characters are imprisoned, others are vulnerable and yet others dare to dream and break away. The events of the novel remain utterly believable.
Fielding is an excellent narrator (I hope to listen to more books narrated by her). She is as versatile as Vance....a good narrator always adds to character development without "interfering" which is no easy job, and she does that. I believe that if I had chosen to read the book I might have found certain passages dragging (just a little bit) but Fielding's voice hooked me...I wanted to listen to this book in one sitting! (It took me about 3)
Good question! I would have loved to chat with Mrs. Hill over a cup of tea and explore her real feelings about Mr. Bennet. I might have want to talk with Mr. Bennet as well. And of course, with James Smith.
I recommend this book to anybody who is prepared to see Darcy and Elizabeth as bit players in a story which I find infinitely more interesting than their own!
Look upward and see the wonders I've seen
This may become one of my favorite books. I loved hearing about the other side of Pride & Prejudice.
I loved seeing the life at Longbourn from downstairs. I didn't think it would be so enjoyable and it was almost like it had been written by Jane Austen herself, with a few minor tweaks. Those tweaks could be easily overlooked as the story and the characters were so compelling. I loved Sarah the protagonist. In many ways she reminded me of another Austen character Anne Elliot of Persuasion.
Definitely Sarah. The story is primarily Sarah's story and she does a wonderful job.
When Sarah and Mrs. Hill told each other their secrets.
I would happily recommend this to any lover of Jane Austen's books.
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!
I was so excited to listen to Longbourn, but it was so disappointing. I was hoping/expecting a little P&P meets Downton Abbey, some fun drama and backstabbing servants, but this was a very slow and boring story, not terrible, but not good either.
Do not expect P&P; except for a few incidents taken from the book and the Bennett's names thrown in there is nothing P&P about it -- which is fine, after all, this book is about the servants not the family, but then why set this up in the Bennett household at all when it really could've taken place in any household in any town? Might I suggest that it's because it would not have sold? Attaching the story to the beloved Jane Austen novel is why I bought it, and it's probably why you're considering it!
Even more boring than the story was the narrator. I am not sure why she whispered throughout the book, but she also made odd pauses through each sentence, like she was thinking about what she was going to say next. Perhaps with a better narrator the book would have improved, it is entirely possible, a good narrator can make an average book good and a bad one can make a good book bad, but I am currently reading Death Comes to Pemberley and even though I'm not even half way through I would suggest getting that instead.
English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.
Yes, especially if they like Jane Austin style books. This one seemed to have all of the elements except the major betrayal of the protagonist.
The headmistress; because she is torn between feeling and disciplining. She understands the conundrum of being too easy and being too hard...
The scene when Sarah sneaks into the new houseboys backpack.
No- it wasn't that engaging.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
Other narrator sounds like she's telling a really scary story. The book is slow with way too much prose. I actually started this book over 5 times to see if it was just me. It isn't.
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