Longbourn

Longbourn

Large Print - 2013
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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: 9780804121149
0804121141
Branch Call Number: LGE-TYPE FICTION BAKER 2013
Characteristics: 543 p. (large print) ; 24 cm

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Gorgeous writing. A poorer version of Downton Abbey-type servants, in the earlier Jane Austen era. - Lori

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.

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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 »


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Uninspired writing. Poorly crafted story line with the 'James' war story' interrupting the flow of the downstairs drama and unrealistic, overly simplified characters. Did she need to waste so much space on Sarah's chilblains. I appreciated the barrier author created between those well known upstairs Austen characters and the invisible downstairs. But she took a good idea and turned it into a tedious story.

u
uncommonreader
Mar 09, 2017

A quite charming imagining of downstairs, the real people inhabiting "Pride and Prejudice".

AL_ANNAL Feb 18, 2017

Fascinating and deeply engaging story of a housemaid in Jane Austen's Bennet household. Austen is a tough act to follow. That this book has been chosen as a best of the year says something!

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Jan 11, 2017

If you are like me, and when reading Jane Austen often roll your eyes at the fact that her ostensibly financially strapped characters still have a house full of servants, this book is for you. It was fascinating to read the events of Pride & Prejudice from the servants' point of view, and it really illuminated the fact that being "poor" by the standard of members of the gentry, like the Bennets, still looks pretty luxurious to someone who spends sixteen hours a day ensuring that those people get to live a life of leisure. Baker's attention to detail is astonishing -- this book was clearly excellently researched -- and the romantic subplot between two of the servants keeps readers turning pages to find out whether, like Lizzy and Jane, Sarah the housemaid will also get her happy ending.

AL_STEFFEN Nov 23, 2016

Enjoyed this somewhat sleepy story of the downstairs humans of Longbourn the estate of the Bennet Family, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. One of those books where modern values are applied to characters of the past; housemaid falls for a black manservant for example, and a housekeeper enters a marriage of convenience with a gay butler, neither bat an eye. Applying modern values to historical characters is so interesting! You know there were empathetic and open-minded, accepting humans in the past, but you also know issues of social justice were often nonexistent and people's belief systems were rigid. Should all writing on this topic be extremely literary? Or is a causal tone ok? This book employs the latter, and I'm not mad at it for doing so.
Mr. Collins is treated with sympathy, and middle sister Mary isn't despised for her plain-ness and practicing the piano, and I enjoyed that. Lizzie and Jane are also regarded by their servants with moderate rather than fanatic admiration, as lovely but fairly useless, mainly ornamental virgins, which I didn't hate.
Some good descriptions of truly nasty laundering and other household tasks (did you know they used to drop wet tea leaves onto dusty floors before sweeping them??) and a pleasant scandal (spoiler alert) involving Mr. Bennet's natural son.
Pretty good!

s
suziq60
Jun 01, 2016

I was very disappointed in this novel, and truly have difficulty understanding all the "hype" praising this "international bestseller". The first 200 pages dragged, the writing was simplistic and repetitive, and the plot was thin and predictable. After that, the plot picked up describing the war, and then the story limped to its unsurprising ending.

g
Gwenny69
Jan 24, 2016

I'll never read Austen the same way again. This book has added a new dimension. It takes you into the lives of those that facilitate the decadent lifestyle of the Bennett family and other wealthy families. It makes you realize just how entrenched the class system was at that time in Britain. It's a brilliant idea and the book itself is an engaging read. The narrator has a good range.

h
htliang
Oct 21, 2015

After some initial struggle to get into this story - it did seem somewhat trite and silly after having just finished a true story of a terrible tragedy at sea - I started to really enjoy the period atmosphere and the characters. The story focuses on the servants of the Bennet household (from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice").
Jo Baker has an interesting writing style. The first page has the sentence, "Sheep huddled in drifts on the hillside; birds in the hedgerows were fluffed like thistledown; in the woods, fallen leaves rustled with the passage of a hedgehog; the stream caught starlight and glistened over the rocks." A little long for a sentence, but does a good job describing the scene for the reader.
The early silliness disappears as the story progresses and we learn more of the footman's war experiences and the earlier years of the maids. The dilemma that servants faced in those days is highlighted; having to stay in an awful situation because you have no other option. It must have been almost unbearable for some of them.
If you love Jane Austen's books, I believe you'll enjoy this as well.

h
heinrij
Oct 12, 2015

I loved this book. I would definitely read her again. I would rate it PG.

s
ShannanwithanA
Sep 26, 2015

Really lovely writing. Good story. You don't need to know a thing about Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Rich with historical detail on the life of domestic servants and the working poor in early 20th century England. Engaging characters you feel for. Realities of World War I provide interesting backdrop to parts of story. Gorgeous narration by Emma Fielding.

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LibrarySquare Feb 03, 2016

Did you love Pride and Prejudice? Well, you will enjoy the flip side of the story from the viewpoint of the scullery maids, the coachman, and other servants at Longbourn. You`ll get to view of what the servants think about the main characters and events in Pride and Prejudice. There is intrigue, romance and laughter between the pages of this 19th century title set in a Great Britain`s upper class country estate. Readers will learn about the customs and social life of all classes even though the focus is on "below stairs help" life. With a handsome new coachman's arrival, all the help is atwitter about where he's from. A few scandals with the infantry and a persons mysterious disappearance add suspense to this romantic story.

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easyread3
Jul 07, 2015

A well-written and thoroughly enjoyable book about the "downstairs" lives of servants living in Regency England.

siammarino Aug 05, 2014

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.

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easyread3
Jul 07, 2015

"It does not matter what I think of you, it does not matter in the least."

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