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Longbourn Audiobook

Longbourn

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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

4.1 (931 )
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4.4 (862 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kim 11-02-14
    Kim 11-02-14 Member Since 2010
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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'.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SydSavvy PARIS, TX, United States 10-20-14
    SydSavvy PARIS, TX, United States 10-20-14 Member Since 2008

    The Book Snob for Paris Life Magazine.

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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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maura Falls Church, VA, United States 09-25-14
    Maura Falls Church, VA, United States 09-25-14
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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.


    1 of 1 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

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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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KA 06-18-14
    KA 06-18-14
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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.

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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
  •  
    Driftless Nana 02-07-16 Member Since 2016

    leahiniowa

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    "Better than Pride and Prejudice!"

    I'm making an audacious claim here. I know that it's virtually literary heresy to compare Jane Austen's work unfavorably with a modern novel. However . . .

    I came to Longbourn expecting a rehashing of Austen's plot from the perspective of those "downstairs." I was very quickly disabused of this belief. Baker has created her own world of characters living their own independent lives which, now and then, intersect with that of the Bennet family.

    Baker must have extensively researched the lives of all types of people during this era, and her ability of portray characters of various lifestyles during this period is uncanny. I am a voracious reader of biographies, diaries and journals, historical fiction and non-fiction. But it is rare that a historical novel, and more an audiobook, gave me the feeling that I was dipping into the lives of real people. Her prose, ad Fielding's interpretation of it, draws the reader in without feeling that it is contrived or overly poetic.

    Don't get me wrong. I respect Jane Austen's work. I recognize her ability to reproduce the society in which she lived using fiction. And as an adult (I first read her books as a "teeny-bopper" in the very early 1970's) the consequences that come to foolish young girls are something I can relate to. More, as a parent, understand the turmoil when families are stretched between concern for the welfare of their daughters and fear of losing their social standing.

    But all in all, I prefer Baker's re-interpretation of Austen's novel. If it can be called that. Because, when it comes down to brass tacks, Longbourn is only slightly related to Pride and Prejudice. It's much, much better.



    .

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 05-22-17
    Rebecca 05-22-17 Member Since 2015
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    "I wanted to like this..."

    I really wanted to like this book, and I did enjoy parts of it, but overall it was just so-so. The narrator sounded like she was whispering the whole time...like she was telling you a secret. It got very old after hours and hours of listening to it. Regarding the story, I think the author was trying to make a point that the staff did not know a lot of about what was going on with the 'pride and prejudice' part of the life in the house, but I would have liked to hear more. Then there is the end...what a let down.I think it could have used 1 more chapter to finish it off.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rife 05-14-17
    Rife 05-14-17 Member Since 2016
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    "I thought I'd like the subject, but boring"

    The explanation said it was similar to an Upstairs,, Downstairs type story seen from the downstairs occupant's view. Unfortunately, the story line was so boring I found it difficult to pay attention to even begin to care about the characters. I rated it high for the narrator, Emma Fielding, who I have listened to before and enjoyed her voice and pace. But even she couldn't save the dull story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Bear 04-27-17
    Diane Bear 04-27-17 Member Since 2015

    skyisblue2010

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    "Absolutely loved it!"
    What made the experience of listening to Longbourn the most enjoyable?

    The writing and reading were both top notch. I'm kind of a literary snob. I need literature with a love of language and the way it works on the tongue, the mind, the heart. This was altogether delicious and delightful!


    Have you listened to any of Emma Fielding’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not heard Emma Fielding's performances before but I will be looking at her others, now! The reader is very important to me and she did a GREAT job!


    Any additional comments?

    Others have spoken to their disappointment about the treatment of the Bennets. Although I believe I read Pride and Prejudice many years ago and recently watched Death Comes to Pemberly (which was wonderful!) I had no real attachment to the Bennets. The story rang very true to me about the view from the servants. The serving girl puts a towel down on the floor for her mistress to stand on as she washes her body. I was thinking of that towel as one more thing the servant will have to wash on laundry day.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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