Author: Jo Baker
Expected Release Date: October 8, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction / Romance
• 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.
Longbourn is a novel I’ve been wanting to read for the past several Jane Austen Julys, but I just hadn’t been able to get to it. I’m so glad I finally did!
Longbourn is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants at the Bennet house. It was engaging and intriguing all the way through, but it surprised me a bit by being a bit dark at times. And it presented some of the characters in a different light seeing what happened being closed doors so to speak. Wickham in particular was quite a bit more repulsive in this story, but a character that I enjoy well enough in the original was presented in a less-pleasing light. Fortunately Elizabeth and Jane’s characters were left unchanged.
The bulk of the story follows Sarah, who came to work at the Bennet house as a young girl. She’s now growing into womanhood and is beginning to desire something more for herself. A bit of a triangle forms between her and a new servant that comes into the Bennet home and a servant for Mr. Bingley. I was happy with the choice Sarah made in the end and with the fact that she stayed true to herself. But, I was sad for the guy that was left out, and I wanted just a little bit more of the romance in the story. And I’d hoped to see a resolution play out between two of the characters that I didn’t get.
Other than that, I have no complaints, and I very much enjoyed getting a look behind the scenes of the times – even if I did find myself cringing at times. I recommend this for historical fiction fans – especially those that don’t mind a bit of darkness with a side of romance. 4.25 Stars!
*Review Note: Please check out trigger warnings elsewhere if you have triggers. I tend to overlook adding them in my reviews.*
Have you read Longbourn? Are you planning to? Are you participating in #JaneAustenJuly? Do you have any Austen-inspired book recommendations?