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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 (582 )
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4.3 (538 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    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
    21
    ratings
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    129
    38
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    6
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    Story
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KA 06-18-14
    KA 06-18-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    6
    5
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    "Well done, excellent read or listen, bravo"
    Would you listen to Longbourn again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about Emma Fielding’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Who was the most memorable character of Longbourn and why?

    Nothing, very easy evperience


    Any additional comments?

    I look forward to more of the same from Ms Baker

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Brown Emeryville, CA 05-15-14
    L. Brown Emeryville, CA 05-15-14 Member Since 2015

    NYC editor 25 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "So Clever"

    Author does a nice job of bringing Jane down to the kithchen; good story telling in the tradition of you know who.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison GRANADA HILLS, CA, United States 12-01-13
    Alison GRANADA HILLS, CA, United States 12-01-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    187
    12
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    "I couldn't finish"
    What disappointed you about Longbourn?

    No real plot or intrigue. I listened to 10 chapters, yet wasn't hooked in to the story.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jo Baker again?

    No.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Emma Fielding?

    She was fine.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim 11-02-14
    Kim 11-02-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    25
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    "NOT For Jane Austen Readers"

    As a fan of Jane Austen I found this book offensive. While I believe the author's desire is partly to show the 'other side' of the story or the point of view of the servant. I read JA precisely because I do not like to be assaulted with the ugly, seedy and immoral stories of characters, the likes of whom I would never choose to associate with I my daily life let alone for reading entertainment.
    An author's desire to examine the disgusting under-belly of humanity to seek out motive and reason is not my idea of relaxing and entertaining reading. This was a sadly disappointing 'read'.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MidnightBookGirl 08-01-15 Member Since 2010

    Freelance Book Reviewer at Midnight Book Girl

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "Fantastic Narration, Not Enough Mr. Darcy."
    Any additional comments?

    Story

    There was some slow pacing, but overall I really enjoyed this book about the Bennett household servants. The book had me from the first, when the servants were complaining about how filthy Elizabeth Bennet's dresses got from all that walking around in the dirt she's prone to. :) So grateful not to be a servant back then! The narration stretches over a long period of time, and it gave another view into certain characters (Wickham and just how wicked he really could be) and Mr. Bennet- creating a whole back story for him that while not necessarily cannon, was still within keeping of the times and expectations.

    Mostly the story focuses on Sarah the maid, and her quest for something different than the day to day toil of being a servant in a small household. As a character, I found Sarah frustrating at times, she could be impulsive and unkind, but those are the very traits that make her more human and realistic. I was intrigued by the Bingley's back story, and their servants, but the book only gives glimpses of them.

    The first half of the book worked better for me than the last half, because what I think I really wanted out of this book was Pride and Prejudice... okay, mostly more Mr. Darcy, not wars and blackmail. It got a little... depressing. However, if you're looking for a book that mixes a little of Pride and Prejudice with a focus on servants in that time period and the struggle they had to endure, then this book is for you.
    Narrator

    Emma Fielding narrates and she was wonderful. I'm not sure if I would have found this book quite so readable had I not listened to the audiobook. I would definitely recommend Fielding's narration over reading the book in print!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miss Jen 07-02-15
    Miss Jen 07-02-15
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    "Great book!"

    I loved this book and it was well read. If you like Dowton Abby and Jane Austin this is the book to enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Hardy Seattle, WA USA 06-16-15
    Linda Hardy Seattle, WA USA 06-16-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Plot too thin though some good ideas"

    Slow reading with not much happening a Story told from point of view of servant housemaid who had lots of drudgery which was passed over quickly Some serials of tools or customs might have lifted story out of monotony Good ideas needed more events


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Gainesville, TX, United States 05-29-15
    April Gainesville, TX, United States 05-29-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "just a sappy love story not a historical fiction"

    I did not like this book and struggles to finish it. the story line was predictable and dull.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebekah 05-15-15
    Rebekah 05-15-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    2
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    Performance
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    "Not a fan"

    See my review on good reads. The performance was good, if a bit slow at times. The story was ok, but I the protagonist doesn't have any sense and I think she deserves what she gets so far, or worse. (I stopped reading about halfway through.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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