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Longbourn | [Jo Baker]

Longbourn

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

"Captivating... A brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the parlors of Pride and Prejudice." (Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements)

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (430 )
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4.3 (400 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 10-20-14
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 10-20-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Quiet Treat"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 10-03-14
    Lori 10-03-14
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    6
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    "Excellent!"

    This is the Jane Austen spin-off to hear. The period details are superb and the story is compelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maura Falls Church, VA, United States 09-25-14
    Maura Falls Church, VA, United States 09-25-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Delicious for a huge Austen fan"
    Where does Longbourn rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Longbourn?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandie 08-24-14
    Sandie 08-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    "We'll worth listening to"
    Would you listen to Longbourn again? Why?

    Yes. Pretty accurate description of life 'below stairs', and interestingly written.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Not too much. Perhaps shortened Sara's search for James.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Couldn't really pick out a favourite scene.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pita Miami 08-22-14
    Pita Miami 08-22-14 Member Since 2013

    Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very fulfilling listen - Intelligently written"
    Would you listen to Longbourn again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What does Emma Fielding bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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)


    If you could take any character from Longbourn out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Unchartered Territories 07-27-14
    Amazon Customer Unchartered Territories 07-27-14 Member Since 2009

    Look upward and see the wonders I've seen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pleasantly surprised"
    Where does Longbourn rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This may become one of my favorite books. I loved hearing about the other side of Pride & Prejudice.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Emma Fielding – was your favorite?

    Definitely Sarah. The story is primarily Sarah's story and she does a wonderful job.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Sarah and Mrs. Hill told each other their secrets.


    Any additional comments?

    I would happily recommend this to any lover of Jane Austen's books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arlene SAN DIEGO, CA, United States 02-17-14
    Arlene SAN DIEGO, CA, United States 02-17-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Pride and Prejudice is Industry and Diligence"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Denver, CO, United States 02-13-14
    Christine Denver, CO, United States 02-13-14 Member Since 2012
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    "So Disappointing"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arlene Potomac, MD 01-14-14
    arlene Potomac, MD 01-14-14

    English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.

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    "Nice period piece but a little predictable"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The headmistress; because she is torn between feeling and disciplining. She understands the conundrum of being too easy and being too hard...


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The scene when Sarah sneaks into the new houseboys backpack.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No- it wasn't that engaging.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 12-27-13
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 12-27-13 Member Since 2007

    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!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "MEH!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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