Longbourn Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
This is not.
If you are a P&P fan, I encourage you to read this; it's faithful to Austen, but also adds a lot of context that describes the world in which Lizzie et al. lived.
In P&P- dresses appear. Hair is dressed. Food shows up when needed. And that's just for starters! "Longbourn" focuses on the people who make these things happen, and their lives, which are at least as compelling as the lives of their "betters".
It's not nearly as fun a read as P&P, or course; it's dealing with more gritty issues than P&P needed to- even though it, itself, dealt with some serious grit.
We moderns do not actually have a grasp of how physically onerous sheer survival was in the past- before ovens, stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums, indoor plumbing... and I could go on! This gives you an idea, though the cooking aspect is somewhat glossed over.
The plot(s) is also compelling. The "downstairs" aspects are handled really well, with excellent characterization and pacing, and the references to "upstairs" work perfectly (but are not necessarily that relevant).
I would have appreciated a bit more context for the scene in which Sarah finds the remains of the viallage she was raised in- before her family died, and she was put in a workhouse. "Weaver's Cottages"- I think, but might be wrong, that this was a bit early for the factories to have put the home weavers out of work. That's a pretty minor detail, though./
If you love P&P, I strongly recommend this book; I think it gives a depth to the world that's depicted there, plus is an excellent- though more serious- novel in its own right.
However that all said, I had to suspend much belief because the actions, themes and motivations of the characters, particularly Sarah is just too modern. I like some of the drama that unfolded, but I don't know just how common a lot of it would have been. It is a truth universally acknowledged TODAY that everyone was having lots of sex out of wedlock. But that was probably not an actual truth back then, when propriety and mores of the day were much different, and the real life consequences and hardship of crossing them could be devastating.
A fun read if you are a fan of Austen, Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs. As long as you don't expect accuracy.
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