Longbourn by Jo Baker

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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."

Review: So my first exposure to this novel came from this, my reaction to which was along the lines of, "haven't we had enough of Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice? Except, apparently, combining them..." followed by a weary sigh. In addition to my amazement that the movie had ALREADY been optioned, despite the fact that the book wasn't finished being written yet...

That being said, it turns out to be a pretty good book. I like seeing the day-to-day operations of the house and understanding the sort of work that goes into keeping a house like that running. It's interesting to see the Bennet family from the servants' point of view, and to understand that even though they consider themselves "poor" as compared to their peers, they're still firmly upper-class as compared to their servants.

The plot is interesting to me; at the time, it's fascinating and engrossing, but looking back at it, it's pretty straightforward and simple. Which is rather Austen-esque, now that I think of it. You get caught up in it, and then look back and realize not much happened.

Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, is-or-would-be-a-good-movie, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, thought-provoking


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