‘Longbourn’ by Jo Baker

L JBSTORY: 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: ‘Longbourn’ is a story that centers on the downstairs members of the home of the Bennet family as in Elizabeth Bennet of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ fame.  

We meet Sarah, a housemaid and her younger helper Polly,   along with Mr. and Mrs. Hill, the butler and housekeeper.  While the Bennet family is not extremely wealthy, they are comfortable.

We see the daily grind that the servants must face with the constant and endless chores that exhaust them and wreak havoc on their bodies. When a young man named James Smith comes looking for work, the downstairs members are happy to have him help with many of the chores. He works as footman and driver and jack of all trades for the family.  

Before long, an attraction starts between Sarah and James.  The underlying story of his background starts to slowly unravel as the book goes on keeping the reader totally mesmerized. Without giving out any secrets about the ending of this book, suffice it to say it surprised me and all ends came together beautifully. 

The author’s ability to describe the daily grind of each member of the downstairs truly makes the reader realize how difficult the servant’s life was.  Her descriptive talents left me awed.  As well, we have peeks into the lives of each member of the Bennet family which makes one feel like they have been privy to secrets that others were not.

I highly recommend this book whether you are a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or Jane Austin fan.  It’s a fabulous story and one you won’t soon forget.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library. 

Happy ‘P&P’ Birthday!

JAWAs I sit here and contemplate and read everything about the 200th anniversary of  Jane Austen’s writing of ‘Pride and Prejudice’  I wonder how many of us have read it or for that matter, any other of her wonderful works. Just in case you’ve never read it, now you can read it here.

Here’s what ‘Jane Austen’s Regency World’ is saying today…

“The media is awash with stories how today – Monday, January 28, 2013 – is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Chawton Cottage appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning.

The P&P readathon is being streamed from the Jane Austen Centre here in Bath.

And the Pride & Prejudice special edition of Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine is still available – as is Celebrating Pride and Prejudice, by Maggie Lane and Hazel Jones, marking 200 years of Jane Austen’s ‘darling child'”.

To all of you that haven’t read Jane, I so hope you at least watched some of the mini series and movies that tried to capture her written word. Instead of writing my thoughts on everything Austen, I ‘raided’ the You Tube and here’s what I came up with….

Laurence Olivier

Colin Firth

David Rintoul

Matthew Macfadyen

Elliot Cowan

Martin Henderson

And here are some of my favorite scenes from my favorite movies/series….

Out of all her works, what did you like the best? Who is your favorite Darcy and why? To one of you, b2b will send ‘LOST IN AUSTEN’ mini series that I fell in love with the first time I saw it! *US ONLY ;(

If you’re impatient to see if you’re the winner of this series, here it is in its entirety.