Longbourn

Longbourn

Large Print - 2013
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A reimagining of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice from the perspectives of its below-stairs servants captures the romance, intrigue and drama of the Bennet household from the sideline perspective of Sara, an orphaned housemaid who becomes subject to the arrival of the militia and the attentions of an ambitious former slave.
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, ©2013.
Edition: First large print edition.
ISBN: 9780804121149
0804121141
Characteristics: 543 pages ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Austen, Jane 1775-1817.

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Uninspired writing. Poorly crafted story line with the 'James' war story' interrupting the flow of the downstairs drama and unrealistic, overly simplified characters. Did she need to waste so much space on Sarah's chilblains. I appreciated the barrier author created between those well known upstairs Austen characters and the invisible downstairs. But she took a good idea and turned it into a tedious story.

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uncommonreader
Mar 09, 2017

A quite charming imagining of downstairs, the real people inhabiting "Pride and Prejudice".

AL_ANNAL Feb 18, 2017

Fascinating and deeply engaging story of a housemaid in Jane Austen's Bennet household. Austen is a tough act to follow. That this book has been chosen as a best of the year says something!

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marthabwaters
Jan 11, 2017

If you are like me, and when reading Jane Austen often roll your eyes at the fact that her ostensibly financially strapped characters still have a house full of servants, this book is for you. It was fascinating to read the events of Pride & Prejudice from the servants' point of view, and it really illuminated the fact that being "poor" by the standard of members of the gentry, like the Bennets, still looks pretty luxurious to someone who spends sixteen hours a day ensuring that those people get to live a life of leisure. Baker's attention to detail is astonishing -- this book was clearly excellently researched -- and the romantic subplot between two of the servants keeps readers turning pages to find out whether, like Lizzy and Jane, Sarah the housemaid will also get her happy ending.

AL_STEFFEN Nov 23, 2016

Enjoyed this somewhat sleepy story of the downstairs humans of Longbourn the estate of the Bennet Family, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. One of those books where modern values are applied to characters of the past; housemaid falls for a black manservant for example, and a housekeeper enters a marriage of convenience with a gay butler, neither bat an eye. Applying modern values to historical characters is so interesting! You know there were empathetic and open-minded, accepting humans in the past, but you also know issues of social justice were often nonexistent and people's belief systems were rigid. Should all writing on this topic be extremely literary? Or is a causal tone ok? This book employs the latter, and I'm not mad at it for doing so.
Mr. Collins is treated with sympathy, and middle sister Mary isn't despised for her plain-ness and practicing the piano, and I enjoyed that. Lizzie and Jane are also regarded by their servants with moderate rather than fanatic admiration, as lovely but fairly useless, mainly ornamental virgins, which I didn't hate.
Some good descriptions of truly nasty laundering and other household tasks (did you know they used to drop wet tea leaves onto dusty floors before sweeping them??) and a pleasant scandal (spoiler alert) involving Mr. Bennet's natural son.
Pretty good!

s
suziq60
Jun 01, 2016

I was very disappointed in this novel, and truly have difficulty understanding all the "hype" praising this "international bestseller". The first 200 pages dragged, the writing was simplistic and repetitive, and the plot was thin and predictable. After that, the plot picked up describing the war, and then the story limped to its unsurprising ending.

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Gwenny69
Jan 24, 2016

I'll never read Austen the same way again. This book has added a new dimension. It takes you into the lives of those that facilitate the decadent lifestyle of the Bennett family and other wealthy families. It makes you realize just how entrenched the class system was at that time in Britain. It's a brilliant idea and the book itself is an engaging read. The narrator has a good range.

h
htliang
Oct 21, 2015

After some initial struggle to get into this story - it did seem somewhat trite and silly after having just finished a true story of a terrible tragedy at sea - I started to really enjoy the period atmosphere and the characters. The story focuses on the servants of the Bennet household (from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice").
Jo Baker has an interesting writing style. The first page has the sentence, "Sheep huddled in drifts on the hillside; birds in the hedgerows were fluffed like thistledown; in the woods, fallen leaves rustled with the passage of a hedgehog; the stream caught starlight and glistened over the rocks." A little long for a sentence, but does a good job describing the scene for the reader.
The early silliness disappears as the story progresses and we learn more of the footman's war experiences and the earlier years of the maids. The dilemma that servants faced in those days is highlighted; having to stay in an awful situation because you have no other option. It must have been almost unbearable for some of them.
If you love Jane Austen's books, I believe you'll enjoy this as well.

h
heinrij
Oct 12, 2015

I loved this book. I would definitely read her again. I would rate it PG.

s
ShannanwithanA
Sep 26, 2015

Really lovely writing. Good story. You don't need to know a thing about Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Rich with historical detail on the life of domestic servants and the working poor in early 20th century England. Engaging characters you feel for. Realities of World War I provide interesting backdrop to parts of story. Gorgeous narration by Emma Fielding.

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LibrarySquare Feb 03, 2016

Did you love Pride and Prejudice? Well, you will enjoy the flip side of the story from the viewpoint of the scullery maids, the coachman, and other servants at Longbourn. You`ll get to view of what the servants think about the main characters and events in Pride and Prejudice. There is intrigue, romance and laughter between the pages of this 19th century title set in a Great Britain`s upper class country estate. Readers will learn about the customs and social life of all classes even though the focus is on "below stairs help" life. With a handsome new coachman's arrival, all the help is atwitter about where he's from. A few scandals with the infantry and a persons mysterious disappearance add suspense to this romantic story.

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easyread3
Jul 07, 2015

A well-written and thoroughly enjoyable book about the "downstairs" lives of servants living in Regency England.

siammarino Aug 05, 2014

This is another historical novel set in the English countryside in the late 1700's. I liked it because it is told from the servant's point of view. Author Jo Baker gives a very candid account of their daily toil, and the idiocy of war. The protagonist, Sarah, falls in love with a manservant who inexplicably leaves one day. Their story propels the novel on. Fans of Downtown Abbey and Charlotte Bronte will like this one.

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easyread3
Jul 07, 2015

"It does not matter what I think of you, it does not matter in the least."

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