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Longbourn Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 8, 2013
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Where PRIDE AND PREJUDICE left the Bennet servants as faceless ciphers, in LONGBOURN they are the central characters. There are Mr and Mrs Hill, butler and cook; teenage maid Polly; and the heroine, Sarah. To this small, thinly-stretched team is added James Smith, the new footman. At first Sarah is suspicious of James, whose arrival in the household was the subject of a mysterious argument between Mrs Hill and Mr Bennet. As suspicion hardens into dislike, Sarah finds herself drawn toward the charming footman at neighboring Netherfield, who is also the first black man Sarah has ever seen. As she learns more about these two strange and fascinating arrivals, Sarah takes steps that will change her life forever.
The true subject of LONGBOURN is not, however, Sarah's romantic life, which mirrors Elizabeth's from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and is equally predictable.Read more ›
Pride and Prejudice has always been a favourite story of mine. And I often wonder, daydream and imagine what life was like for Lizzy and Darcy. But I had also wondered what life would have been like for the servants of that household.
I can't imagine dealing with Mrs Bennett on a daily basis, both publicly and intimately (shudder at the thought) being a simple, easy task to undertake.
I was sucked-into Jo Baker's story within the first minute of starting the book. Immediately I liked and cared for the servants and I felt for them as they got along and completed their daily tasks(that turn my stomach and make me thankful that I live in this century!).
I found myself crossing my fingers and holding my breath that servant and gentry alike got to live Happily Ever After.
Jo Baker showed respect and attention to detail in incorporating her voice and imagination into the back-story of Jane Austen's masterpiece.
I have not read any other works by Jo Baker yet, but I intend to now asap.
From "March" (based on "Little Women" from the POV of the father) to "The Wide Sargasso Sea" (based on "Jane Eyre" from the POV of the mad wife), I'm totally over it. Why? Because I find the authors lazy. They reap benefits they haven't earned, piggybacking on emotions and effects the original author had to sweat to produce. Also, they insert modern attitudes that distort the intentions of the original work. And publishers encourage it because, as with producing the sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster, they can hitch a ride with a proven winner. (BTW, I don't have the same opinion about fan fiction, which to me is based on love, not commerce.)
So you may wonder why, feeling this way, I read "Longbourn." Well, Jane Austen's six books can only be re-read so often. And to its credit, "Longbourn" begins auspiciously. Jo Baker's descriptive powers are exceptional. The reader feels the stiff chapped hands, the dreary cold dawns, the endless, backbreaking drudgery endured by our protagonist Sarah, and by Mrs. Hill and little Polly. There is careful, fascinating detail here about domestic life in the early 19th century. To me, it's the strongest element of the book, and the first third shines because of it.
But for me, the plotting falls apart. Two equally unlikely love interests appear for Sarah, one an ex-slave, the other a mysterious stable boy. Sarah falls predictably in love with one of them, and then loses him due to the evil machinations of the wicked Wickham. The book veers into heart-rending depictions of war in Spain (again, very well-written, yet strangely out of place in this narrative.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's cute. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but a light, enjoyable read that does give the original another dimension that I found enjoyable.Published 1 day ago by Rebecca Cooper
An enjoyable book. I enjoyed learning about the servant experience. Makes me appreciate my freedom. As a minority, I also appreciate the presence (and name) of Ptolemy, son of a... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Kindle Customer
A good read for all Jane Austen fans who have always wanted more of Pride and Prejudice.Published 2 days ago by C. Amaning
This gives us the servant's point of view of Longbourn and the Bennet family. While everything focuses on making advantageous marriages in Pride and Prejudice, Longbourn focuses on... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Sheila Gallagher
This book is a different look at the household and provides an entertaining story of the lives of the other inhabitants of the house. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Kindle Customer
Jo Baker takes the setting, characters, and events of Pride and Prejudice and retells the story from the servants point of view. Brilliantly done.Published 15 days ago by Karen S. Reidy
I am a huge Jane Austen fan and this was an enjoyable addition to her Canon. Certainly gives a better view of the strict class society. The end felt rushed though.Published 16 days ago by S. T. Rapuano