Longbourn

Longbourn

Book - 2013 | First American edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:
60
3
1
 …

* 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.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Edition: First American edition.
ISBN: 9780385351232
0385351232
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 331 pages ; 25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

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, cr... Read More »

The servants' take on Pride and Prejudice


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
f
finn75
Nov 29, 2020

Pride and prejudice from the servants perspective. Certainly made me appreciate my washing machine. Picked up in last third.

c
carolwu96
Sep 21, 2020

While many of us are familiar with the original ๐˜—๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜—๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ซ๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฆ, Austen has created such a rich universe that so much has been left unsaid. In ๐˜“๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ, while the romance and glamour take place upstairs, the servants are planning their own futures just as carefully in the less visible corners of the house.โฃโฃโฃโฃ
โฃ
The story mostly follows Sarah, a young maid who has worked for the Bennets for most of her life and who longs to see the bigger world. She falls for the ambitious Ptolemy Bingley, the Bingleysโ€™ footman, but is secretly beloved by Mr.Bennetโ€™s own footman, James Smith. As Sarah explores the significances of love, status, and freedom, we discover a darker side of the era, as well as of Longbourn itself. โฃโฃโฃโฃ
โฃ
The first three-quarters of the book are incredibly slow. Baker traces each characterโ€™s emotional and romantic developments meticulously, but there is so much hesitation that little actually happens, and I was unable to connect with any of the characters, especially the whimsical Sarah. However, as Baker builds her narrative, Sarah undergoes a transformation and I was rooting for her by the end of the story.โฃ
โฃ
I also enjoyed the way in which Baker tweaked the characterizations of mister and missus Bennet. In Lizzyโ€™s eyes, her father is negligent at worst and her mother unrestrained at best, but the older, more knowing lens of Mrs.Hill shows us the more undeserving aspect of the former and a more sympathetic side of the latter. Bakerโ€™s language also blends nicely with the original P&P universe, unlike that of P.D. James in ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜—๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ, which slips too frequently into modern and colloquial vernaculars. โฃโฃ
โฃโฃ
Overall, ๐˜“๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ is a shadowed but soft tale. It may lack action, but I felt as if I were sitting in a field, watching the wind gently ruffle the golden wheat. The sun was setting, and it was a day wasted. Yet it was also a day gained, as Baker transported us back to a slower time, when messages were still carried by mail, and love, once nurtured in a fond heart, could withstand years of subsequent barrenness.

For more book and movie reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead :)

sjpl_DanaLibrariana May 26, 2020

Fans of "Pride and Prejudice" will appreciate this story of the Bennett household told from the perspectives of the estate's servants. These characters that are the focus of this novel have only a fleeting reference in Austen's original work. I appreciated this look into the trials, work and relationships of household staff from the time period. Through the eyes of the household servants, aspects of the more familiar characters in Austen's novel are revealed in a very different light.

m
mcdoff
Apr 28, 2020

Arlene read and said it was good!

d
DominiqueRossier
May 24, 2019

Pride and Prejudice from a different point of view. Unlike several other retellings, this one fits with Austen's narrative. It offers another look at various characters (Mr Collins appears a little less silly, or at least his silliness is more understandable, for instance; Mrs Bennet's character is also well completed). For P&P fans, Elizabeth will be somewhat of a disappointment, though.
The plot starts very nicely/convincingly, but it stalls and gets longish before getting back on tracks.
Overall an enjoyable reading

g
goddessbeth
Jan 17, 2019

I think the most important thing to note here is: If you are reading this novel because you're a Janeite and you want more Darcy and Lizzie romance, you're going to be disappointed. Although this is based in the story of Pride and Prejudice, I would not call this an Austen retelling or continuation story. I would call it Regency-era historical fiction. Lucky for me, I'm all about Downstairs lives and hardships, so I didn't feel disappointed by the premise.

Reading this, the author clearly did her research on the lives, duties, and general prospects of both downstairs Regency-era servants and Regency-era British soldiers and sailors. And the truth is gritty, my friends. The level of comfort we enjoy today (both modern, and being in a wealthy western nation) is ridiculous, comparatively. Every time Sarah described her chilblains, I didn't have a modern equivalent to translate it to....but they sound horrible. The fact of even the hopeful servant characters accepting a lack of hope that their lives would get better is kind of heartbreaking. "It has always been this way and it can never be better than this" is just sad, when you're used to viewing history through the lens of an upper class character.

There are definitely some intrigues added to secondary P&P characters (Mr. Bennet, most notably, and Wickham most disturbingly but with a creepy sort of sense), but the drama feels plausible for the era, and the characters feel real. There *is* love, but it isn't the swoony drama of the Upstairs family. And there's a lot of gritty suffering (if there was anything more grueling than being a servant, it was being in the King's Navy or Army during the war) that also hurts the heart a bit.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It wasn't an easy read or a fast read, but it was compelling, and perspective-challenging, and interesting, well-written and well-researched, and enjoyable. Probably James' story will stay in my head for a long time.

j
Jackalope99
Nov 16, 2018

I liked this well enough, but it certainly didn't move me -- I definitely like the idea of it more than the executed product. It often felt as though the author was trying much too hard, cramming in "Austen-isms" and Regency wording just for the sake of it. This was especially jarring since, overall, I don't think she entirely succeeding in shedding her contemporary tone. An entertaining enough read though, I just found it a bit hard to get immersed in the writing.

w
WoodneathLaura
Jun 21, 2018

Literary look at the servants from Pride and Prejudice

s
SPPL_Anna
Mar 22, 2018

I found this more compelling than Pride and Prejudice. Very good.

j
Jillbookgirl
Mar 18, 2018

I will never read Austen the same way. A beautiful story full of heartbreak, adventure, and love.

View All Comments

Summary

Add a Summary
CMLibrary_GLoesch 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.

e
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.

Quotes

Add a Quote
e
easyread3
Jul 07, 2015

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

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at SLPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top