Longbourn by Jo Baker
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Genres: Adult, Fiction/Historical, Historical
Source: Personal Collection
Add to: Goodreads
• 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. - via GoodReads
When I first heard about Longbourn by Jo Baker, I was pretty excited. I interpreted it as Pride and Prejudice from the servants perspectives. Really it’s more about the servants in the Bennet home.
Sarah had a family until she was six. When she was left on her own, she ended up in the poorhouse. From there she was brought to Longbourn as a maid.
James was brought up in the local vicarage. He’s had many travels and is now in need of some work. He is able to find employment at Longbourn as a footman as well as assorted other jobs.
Sarah and James very much start out on the wrong foot. Nothing seems to go well between them. Then there’s the exotic Bingley footman to catch Sarah’s eye. It takes forever for any kind of romance to spark for Sarah.
The hardest part of the story for me was the deadly dull details of this book. Baker goes into detail about laundry day and that time of the month and mentions Elizabeth’s stinky, hairy arm pits when Sarah is changing her clothes. Yes it’s historically accurate but is it pertinent to the story? Does it add to the enjoyment? Not for me.
The secondary characters were enjoyable but there wasn’t much mentioned about the family. The Bennet’s were there but only mentioned when a servant interacted with them. This book was more about the maid discovering herself and what she wanted out of life.
This wasn’t the book that I was expecting so I know that disappointment tinges my rating. The writing was dry and the story was slow paced. Longbourn was not my favorite read of 2015 but it wasn’t horrible either.