Author: Jo Baker
On the Shelves: Fiction> Historical Fiction/Re-tellings
‘If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,’ Sarah thought, ‘she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and raw. Domestic life below stairs, ruled with a tender heart and an iron will by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman, bearing secrets and the scent of the sea .
I am reading this as part of Austen August. Page Count: 443.
My friend gave me two books for my birthday earlier this year, and this was one of them. She herself had read Longbourn and promised me it was a good book. I picked up Longbourn at the start of August, intending to make it last a couple of weeks by reading it alongside Pride and Prejudice, but nope, I basically devoured this book.
Longbourn follows the servants of the Longbourn property, rather than the Bennet inhabitants. You do have scenes which run parallel to the original book, so you can keep a pace with the story quite happily, but Longbourn runs on it’s own steam and engrosses you into the world of servants and maids and the daily dreary chores from around the manor. The main character of the book is a girl called Sarah, who was taken on by the head-servant Mrs Hill at a young age, rescuing her from the poor house as a child. Sarah is a young woman now and the events of Longbourn start much like the events in Pride and Prejudice: with a stranger arriving at the house. Although in this case, it isn’t Mr Bingley, but rather a new footman for the Bennet household.
Baker’s writing is lovely and works well with the setting and style of this book. The characters are carefully crafted, holding their own against the originals and yet not stealing any light from the original story. There were a couple of things I didn’t completely agree with personally, but that is my own opinion. Generally speaking I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy Pride and Prejudice.