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



To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Summary: "'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view .. until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'

Tomboy Scout Finch comes of age in a small Alabama town during a crisis in 1935. She admires her father Atticus, how he deals with issues of racism, injustice, intolerance and bigotry, his courage and his love."

Review: I can't believe I hadn't read this one until now. Most people read it in school, and I guess my class read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn instead?

I really liked it, though. I like Atticus, and how he's a good solid moral compass, not just for Scout and Jem, and not just for the book itself, but for the reader to look up to and admire. I like that he's human and makes mistakes, especially one like assuming that people are not going to be cowards (spoiler: sometimes people are cowards).

I like Jem's journey, and I feel like the author did a good job capturing "teenage boy". Even when Jem wants to be a good kid and do the right things, he's still a little harsh towards Scout while he figures himself out.

I'll probably be rereading this one from time to time.

Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, i-feel-so-smart-now, is-a-movie, my-kind-of-woman, thought-provoking



The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans

Summary: "Bestselling novelist Richard Paul Evans has met hundreds of thousands of people and heard many of their stories in his travels over the past two decades. Most of the people he meets are hungry for inspiration; they love his novels because his characters are also searching for meaning and understanding.

The Four Doors is Evans’s message to those who seek inspiration in their lives. It began as a talk he gave on the spur of the moment, and over the course of ten years, it has evolved into a message he has shared with successful business people, students, and even addicts and prisoners. It includes stories his readers have told him, stories about great achievers who overcame hardships, and stories about his own struggle growing up in a large family with financial difficulties and a suicidal mother, and about his diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome later in life. These inspiring stories are woven through his identification and careful explanation of the four doors to a more fulfilling life:





Evans believes that we all want to know the meaning of our lives. In The Four Doors, he shows how even the most quiet life can be full of purpose and joy, if we choose to take that first step over the threshold."

Review: So I've never read anything by Richard Paul Evans, and to be honest, his books always struck me as being kind of cheesy. (Pretty much anything that can be described as "heartwarming" does; it's just a prejudice I have.) I might have to start reading his fiction, though, because I really liked this one.

This is a pretty great book. It's short, which means there isn't much to it, but what IS there is really good stuff. Just a few pieces of advice for ways to make your life what you want it to be, instead of what it is. If you feel like you don't have control over the things in your life and like you don't like where life has brought you, you should give this book a shot. It might be the little nudge you need to get yourself somewhere you'd rather be.

Lately I'm really loving books that motivate me. I've been having motivation problems in my life, so I really like books like this one, that make me want to DO things to make my life (and MYSELF) better.

Goodreads Shelves: be-proactive, i-feel-so-smart-now, thought-provoking


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