Baker, Jo

(Large Print - 2013)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The servants at Longbourn estate, only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen's classic, take center stage in Jo Baker's lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world.
Publisher: [New York] : Random House Large Print, c2013
Edition: 1st large print ed
ISBN: 0804121141
Branch Call Number: LGE-TYPE FICTION BAKER 2013
Characteristics: 543 p. (large print) ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

A novel whose principal characters are the servants in Jane Austen's Pride and prejudice. 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... Read More »

A novel whose principal characters are the servants in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice from the servants point of view gives an entirely different take on life and love at Longbourn.

In this novel, Elizabeth Bennett, Mr. Darcy, and the rest of the gentry from Pride and Prejudice provide only the subplot. The servants who drive them around, clean their chamberpots, serve at table and scrub their laundry are at center stage.

Comment by: multcolib_dianaa Mar 04, 2014

In this novel, Elizabeth Bennett, Mr. Darcy, and the rest of the gentry from Pride and Prejudice provide only the subplot. The servants who drive them around, clean their chamberpots, serve at table and scrub their laundry are at center stage. I love Pride and Prejudice and have read it a number ... Read More »

From the critics

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Feb 02, 2015
  • GLNovak rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This is not Pride and Prejudice. The characters we meet are not privileged, wealthy, indolent, flighty, shallow social butterflies. They are the behind-the-scenes worker bees, and work they do. Sarah and the others know their station and what is expected of them, and make sure that the Bennett family know little or nothing of the massive effort made to ensure their lives are not at all troubled by anything even slightly unsavoury. The story is pretty predictable but still, if you suspend your impatience with all you see wrong in that society, you can enjoy it. You will be hoping for a happy ending as you wade through the drudgery, the bloody wars, the straitjacket social order. You might also see that both upstairs and downstairs have their own trials and tribulations. You will remain engaged.

Dec 29, 2014
  • blolo rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I love pride & prejudice so I've wanted to read this piece of high-brow fan-fiction for a while now. I liked it, but didn't love it. I'm not sure how well it would've stood up on its own, if it hadn't been part of the jane austen world I already love.

Oct 08, 2014
  • AuntJane rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I wanted to love this - but didn't. I thought it was depressing and forced (or something I can't put my finger on...) an example: the use of "chilblains" a dozen times throughout...OK, OK, we get it, her hands are raw from work, find something else to talk about...

Aug 17, 2014
  • DorisWaggoner rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The idea of turning the story of "Pride and Prejudice" upside down is both a good one, and risky. Jo Baker isn't quite good enough to keep up with Austen. Still, she gives an interesting idea of both upstairs and downstairs that we can't possibly get from the original. As just one example, Mr Bennett is seen in the original as fairly intelligent, but we see him in the beginning as a total fool for believing James' recommendation and story. I didn't see the "secret" until shortly before it was revealed, though apparently some readers did.The reader sees through him immediately, and understands why the girls in the kitchen respond as they do. Again, there's no way Austen could have given us an idea of the lives of servants, as she herself didn't see them except as extensions of herself. It takes a modern sensibility to do that. My reason for giving it a 3 was that I didn't think it was particularly well written compared to Austen, and I kept putting it down before I could finish it. It wasn't a compelling read.

Jul 08, 2014
  • bibliomutti rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I was taken aback by the "unmentionables" as this tale begins. Also, some of the comments here influenced me negatively. I almost returned Longbourn unread. Fortunately, I decided to give it another try. I soon realized that any praise given was well-deserved. Longbourn is neatly and satisfyingly interwoven with the story which inspired it, namely, Pride and Prejudice. The author keeps the tone set by Austen but includes incidents and insights that could only see the light of day in the modern era. It's a great read! I hope they film it - perhaps as a t.v. serial! I'm a little in love with James. I certainly like him more than Mr. Darcy.

This novel opened up Pride and Prejudice for me in a new way, particularly what the military encampments means beyond providing escorts for the younger Bennett girls. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was completely caught up in it

Jun 15, 2014
  • hania4987 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

If you are expecting anything resembling the Austen classic -- DON'T -- you will be sorely disappointed. This is a pretty bleak look at downstairs life on a small English country estate at the beginning of the 19c. The circumstances and characters have nothing to do with Austen's creation beyond dropping in names occasionally. If you enjoy Thomas Hardy's works, this more closely resembles one of his novels.

May 24, 2014
  • limig rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I would barely give this a 1 out of 10 stars. By the last half of the book, I was skimming to get to the end - and I figured out the "secret" near the beginning of the book. Sorry I can't recommend.

May 21, 2014
  • jeansandpearls rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

simply delightful

May 20, 2014
  • samdog123 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An interesting look at what might have potentially happened "below stairs" in the Pride and Prejudice book. Well done and well researched with an engaging storyline. Here the work is the main tie between the servants and the employers--the employers are really just "there," much the same way as the servants would be in the other side of the story.

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This is another historical novel set in the English countryside in the late 1700's. I liked it because it is told from the servant's point of view. Author Jo Baker gives a very candid account of their daily toil, and the idiocy of war. The protagonist, Sarah, falls in love with a manservant who inexplicably leaves one day. Their story propels the novel on. Fans of Downtown Abbey and Charlotte Bronte will like this one.

Apr 13, 2014
  • MARIA E WHELAN rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Longbourn is a fun visit back with the characters of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, although this time focusing on what happens in the domestic quarters. It was entertaining and sweet, but run on a little long and it would have been a little nicer to interact with Austen's old characters more. Overall, decent read.


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