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Longbourn by Jo Baker


by Jo Baker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,9741585,235 (3.76)1 / 398
  1. 20
    Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury by Alison Light (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another age but the same perspective of downstairs' view of upstairs. Parallel nonfiction examination of same theme of classism in England at the end of the serving class era.
  2. 20
    Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge (fannyprice)
  3. 10
    An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: With narratives that run parallel to the events of Pride and Prejudice, these historical novels should enchant Jane Austen fans. An Assembly Such as This tells Mr. Darcy's story, while Longbourn examines the everyday lives of the Bennett family's servants.… (more)
  4. 10
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Cecrow)
  5. 10
    Tea By the Nursery Fire: A Children's Nanny at the Turn of the Century (VMC) by Noel Streatfeild (MarthaJeanne)
    MarthaJeanne: The one book is a fictional account of servants' lives in England around 1800. The other a biographical account of the life of an actual servant a century later. But really, not that much had changed.
  6. 00
    Mina by Jonatha Ceely (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although Mina takes place in Victorian, not Regency, England, like Longbourn it centers around the relationship between two domestic servants -- both outsiders in different ways -- whose bond is threatened by the secrets in their pasts.… (more)
  7. 00
    Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (michigantrumpet)
  8. 00
    Version and Diversion by Judith Terry (nessreader)
    nessreader: They're both Austen from the servants' hall sequels.

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English (154)  Swedish (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
The idea of a new story based on the “downstairs” characters of Pride and Prejudice was just what I wanted, it sounded delicious. However, and I really do hate to say this, Longbourn was a painful read. I realize in saying so, that I am not agreeing with the vast majority of those who have read and reviewed this book. Even so, the truth is I was terribly disappointed. The beginning was a little dry and very plainly written, but I still held out hope. The story follows Sarah, the older of two young housemaids, as she goes through her days filled with chores, sisterly banter with the younger maid, and dreaming of a better life.

Soon, a new and secretive young man appears on the scene and is given work at Longbourn. This new arrival coincides with a mysterious and dashing footman from Netherfield. You see where this is going, right? The expected love triangle, without much detail or suspense, plays out much as you would imagine with a few odd twists and surprises thrown in. The surprises themselves felt much less convincing for the time period in which they are set, and others felt completely fabricated for the shock factor. ( )
  CuriousPaper | Jul 8, 2019 |
I was reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to my thirteen-year-old and feeling a need to spend a little more time living in the world of Longbourn -- considering rereading Pride and Prejudice when I spied this book on my shelves and grabbed it instead.

At first I was excessively charmed. I did like the concept quite a bit -- of seeing what life was like for the servants as the Bennets were bemoaning their limited fortunes and inheritances in front of them, but I had two problems with the novel that really started to get in my way of enjoying it by about a third of the way through. First, Sarah's sensibilities and thoughts sometimes felt distractingly modern. I mean, how am I to know the secret thoughts of the servant class of that era? But they just didn't seem consistent. Second, the danger of writing a book whose primary audience must be Austen fans is that Austen fans are sure to all have their own interpretations of all the characters. And I'm really just over all the modern interpretations of Mr. Bennet as such a scoundrel and Mrs. Bennet as completely lacking in sense.

That said I did quite like the whole bit about James at war, and Sarah's ungrateful boredom at Pemberly. So, a mixed bag. Not quite what I'd hoped for, but interesting all the same. ( )
  greeniezona | Jun 8, 2019 |
Longbourn isn't written in remotely the same writing style as Pride and Prejudice. Frequently, the familiar characters of Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, and the rest seem like strangers with very little to do with their Austen versions. But Longbourn is also a thought-provoking book, because it shines light on the people Austen chose not to notice: the servants. Elizabeth may not care that her petticoats were three inches deep in mud, but the servants who cleaned the petticoats certainly do. Mr. Collins' sudden arrival at Longbourn may be an unexpected inconvenience for the Bennets, but it's a full-blown disaster for the servants.

Beyond the drama (which verges on soap operatic at times, sadly), Longbourn makes the worthwhile point that as much as we love Austen's characters, they lived in a time in which servants were treated as lesser humans. That doesn't make Elizabeth et al bad people, and they were very much products of their time. But for the servants, the whole novel was kind of a miserable experience. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
I read this book for my library book club. It was an alright book. The characters and story did not engage me from the start. I found myself being drawn in for a little bit and then getting a little bored with the story line. I did listen to the audio version which could be some of the reason that I did not always enjoy the book.

I did also follow along with the book at times while listening and found that a better way to understand some of what was being spoken. I have read Pride and Prejudice and usually enjoy these stories involving the servants etc. Just not sure why this one didn't capture me from the start. ( )
  crazy4reading | Apr 10, 2019 |
I was one of those Austen fans who hoped to find a book that would recreate the delicious Austen experience, but this book taught me that that's not really what I want at all. What I want is what I got from this book - a historical novel that stands completely on its own merits, doesn't try to ride on Austen's coattails by bringing her characters back, yet still fits companionably alongside her work. Bennett family members do make the occasional brief appearance when necessary to the story but they in no way upstage the characters. I never for a moment wished I could tiptoe upstairs and hang out with the Bennetts - I was perfectly engrossed by the richly realized people downstairs.

I listened to this on audio, and the reader does a fantastic job. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Like Austen, Baker has written an intoxicating love story but, also like Austen, the pleasure of her novel lies in its wit and fierce intelligence. Longbourn is a profound exploration of injustice, of poverty and dependence, of loyalty and the price of principle; running through the quiet beauty of much of Baker's writing is the unmistakable glint of anger.
Jo Baker’s interesting novel focuses on the downstairs life at Longbourn, the house where the Bennets of “Pride and Prejudice” live. The author makes no attempt to imitate Austen’s style, and pays relatively little attention to Austen’s major characters...Jo Baker’s thoroughly researched description of the servants’ toil expands the tiny piece of ivory that Jane Austen worked on by showing how the lives of the middle and upper classes depended on work that’s now hard to imagine...Certainly, of the many literary rethinkings of Austen’s work, “Longbourn” is one of the most engaging and rewarding

Baker deploys them to good effect not only for their intrinsic interest but as a moral corrective. She has also fashioned an absorbing and moving story about the servants at Longbourn...If part of Baker’s inspiration could have come from Charlotte Brontë, there’s also an aside straight out of “Les Misérables... But to mention these classics is not to condemn as pastiche a work that’s both original and charming, even gripping, in its own right.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Baker, Joprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fielding, EmmaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martín Giráldez, RubénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant?
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With Clare, with thanks for her attention, forbearance, patience.
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There could be no wearing of clothes without their laundering, just as surely as there could be no going without clothes, not in Hertfordshire anyway, and not in September.
If Elizabeth had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she'd most likely be a sight more careful with them.
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Book description
Sarah, a servant at Longbourn, which belongs to the Bennet family, while scrubbing laundry, polishing floors and emptying chamber pots, watches the romances, heartbreaks, and intrigue happening downstairs of the main house, but when a mysterious new fooman arrives, the order of the servants' hall is threatened.
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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.

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