Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Release Day Review: Longbourn

LongbournAuthor: Jo Baker
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books

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 below stairs 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. 

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

He might have fooled everybody else at Longbourn, but he did not fool her. Not for a minute.

Maybe that was just what it was like, when you had been married for ever: all fell still as a pond, and passionless.

To be civil and polite and welcoming; natural manners were always considered the best – she’d heard from Miss Elizabeth say so.

Jo Baker takes readers past the characters that Austen reveals in her Pride and Prejudice, and gives us a look into the lives of their servants and how they interact with them. This book adds a little detail and attention to the time period, the Bennet’s estate, and so much more. This book takes readers below stairs in a way that mimics the style of Downton Abbey or other prominent upstairs/downstairs stories and/or dramas. This book takes readers past the romances concocted by our lovely Bennet girls, and shows what life was like for women and servants of the period. We, as the readers, get to talk a walk on the other side, and trust me, it’s not at all what you thought it would be. We have only seen the dinner parties and extravagant balls, but the servants at Longbourn see so much more!

I am a huge fan of Jane Austen, just like several other thousands of people I know. And I really believe that it says something for an author like Austen, when hundreds of years after she is gone people are still going back to the various worlds she has created and inhibiting them once again. Successful authors, like Baker, can take an Austen story and put a twist on it without taking away all the essentials that readers like you and I fell in love with from the start. This novel was something new and fresh, but still made me nostalgic for the first Austen book I ever read, or the first time I ever felt a chill after meeting a new character or learning about a new romantic prospect. Baker captured enough of Austen’s essence, and it shines all the way through.

Learning about the servant lifestyle at Longbourn was my absolute favorite part. Sarah, the maid you will follow as you read, spares no detail when it comes to her daily duties in the Longbourn estate and amongst the Bennet sisters. I liked the fact that we got to see Sarah interact with Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, and Kitty too. If they would not have been included I would have put the book aside. You must include these crazy sisters at all costs! I also loved seeing people like Mr. Darcy through Sarah’s eyes. He appears so differently from her perspective.

This is a riveting retelling that all fans of Austen should pick up!

***A copy of this book was provided by the publishers at Knopf in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you liked this I've been waiting for this to come out.