Longbourn

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Longbourn

by Jo Baker

Random House of Canada | October 8, 2013 | Hardcover

Longbourn is rated 3.1333 out of 5 by 15.

A brilliantly imagined, irresistible below-stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice: a story of the romance, intrigue and drama among the servants of the Bennet household, a triumphant tale of defying society''s expectations, and an illuminating glimpse of working-class lives in Regency England.

The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen''s classic--take centre 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. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn''t in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 352 pages, 9.56 × 6.53 × 1.31 in

Published: October 8, 2013

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 034581360X

ISBN - 13: 9780345813602

Found in: Fiction and Literature
For millions of book lovers, Pride and Prejudice holds a place in the heart usually reserved for first loves and best friends. It was the first book that completely transported so many of us into a story, made fiction feel truly real. Jane Austen opened the door to a family that even now, two hundred years later, seems so alive and so familiar - she made us feel the joys and the pains of Elizabeth, Jane, and all the residents of Longbourn House and Netherfield Park as if we were Bennets ourselves. Which is why reading Jo Baker’s new novel Longbourn feel so much like going home. Baker has taken the lives in Pride and Prejudice and brilliantly reimagined them through the eyes of the Bennets’ servants, but this is not merely some literary piggybacking. The staff “below stairs” are living, richly drawn characters who have their own tales to tell, and their stories are just as compelling, romantic, and full of twists as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s, and Baker tells them with compassion and a wit that does Jane Austen proud. Your heart will ache and leap for them as much as it did for the girls who live upstairs. After being immersed in the lives of Sarah (the maid), Mrs. Hill (the housekeeper), and James (the footman), I know it will be impossible to read Pride and Prejudice the same way ever again. Baker’s writing is simply that good. She has a vocabulary that echoes Austen, but she never tries to steal her voice. She uses Austen’s characters, but never abuses them – every word rings true, every phrase is a familiar song. Jo Baker, thank you for letting us go home to Longbourn.

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprised Me This book took me by surprise totally. Right from the first page to the last. It is not typically the kind of book that I would choose and I do not know what made me purchase it in the first place as I have never read or watched Pride and Prejudice. I looked forward to my "reading time" each day so I could get back to this book. Mind you it did not take long for me to read it. I found it an easy read. Loved the characters and the fact that it was all about the servants point of view. I would definitely recommend this book. Must get Pride and Prejudice now.
Date published: 2014-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Longourn I looked at this book for about a month before buying it and I am very glad I did. I loved the characters and it brought the privileged world of Pride and Prejudice down a notch when you view the Bennett family through Sarah's eyes.
Date published: 2014-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another prespective on a favourite I can never resist anything related to Austen, so this storyline intrigued me. I wasn't disappointed. While the characters of P&P appear aren't really featured, I loved the glimpse into the workings of the household, and the more personal lives of the Bennett family. Sarah was a wonderful character, and her relationships with the other servants, especially with James, had me reading late into the night. Loved it. Definitely worth reading.
Date published: 2014-02-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Upstairs/Downstairs I'm a big fan of getting another look at an age-old story - in this case Pride & Prejudice.  I also love the upstairs/downstairs aspects of stories like those told in Downton Abbey.  Accordingly, I thought this book was for me. Ultimately, the book was just ok.  I definitely appreciated Sarah's character, cheered for Sarah & James, and there were some rather unexpected twists that kept my attention.  I felt however, that there just weren't enough characters, and thus interactions, to make the book truly engaging.
Date published: 2014-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The other half of the story! This is a gem of a book! The story and characters give a well researched view of life lived behind the baize curtain. This book makes the well loved story of Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' more complete and well rounded. The story of Sara and her contemporaries is well written and very enjoyable to read. We get a broader picture of the times both politically and socially than we do in the stories by Jane Austen. Its like two halves of a story or the lives in those stories have come together and both halves are better. Yet this story stands very well on its own and deserves its own praises.  This book should be read by anyone who is an afficionado of the stories by Austen. It demands a place on every library shelf right next to 'Pride and Prejudice'. If this book is on your "to read" list, move it to the top!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth it I love any book that gets me in straight from the first few pages....I couldn't put it down for 2 days. The middle gets a little slow, and the end was cheesy but if you love this era, or anything to do with downton abbey, or england, you'll love it! I recommend for young adults to young at heart.
Date published: 2014-01-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Ugh I love all things P&P but this was not well done - very disappointing!
Date published: 2014-01-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed Sounded good but ended up being a waste of time and money. 
Date published: 2014-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I bought this book for my daughter but had a chance to read it before I wrapped it.  Interesting story but the characters are not as compelling as Elizabeth et al.  Wickham is even more of a villain, but none of our beloved characters are very likeable; all very self-absorbed. Probably pretty accurate from a servant's point of view in that time period.  I'll have to re-read Pride and Prejudice to look for any references to the servants.
Date published: 2013-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put it Down! I loved this book. I thought it was very well written and kept true to the original characters from the Pride and the Prejudice! I would recommend it!
Date published: 2013-12-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring beyond words. I'm glad I didn't buy this (I borrowed it from the library). I'm a huge Pride and Prejudice fan and have read many of the 'sequels' and spin-offs. This sounded like a wonderful twist on the original novel but I was so bored I couldn't finish it. I tried. I really, really tried. But life is much too short to spend reading drivel. Instead of investing her words into character and plot development, Baker goes on and on and ON with flowery description that does nothing to engage the reader. I found nothing about Sarah to interest me or make me care whether her 'chilblains' ever improved. Sadly, I hoped they would be the death of her after about two chapters. This was nothing more than a poor attempt to cash in on the captive Pride and Prejudice audience. It was an abysmal failure.
Date published: 2013-12-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing The storyline sounded promising. That's where the promise ended. The writing was choppy and hard to read. The best part of the book were the chapters dedicated to James and then they ended. No purpose there. If you really want to read it, wait for this one to come to the library.
Date published: 2013-12-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from If you must - borrow - don't buy I was very disappointed. The book is very repetitive in its storytelling, storyline and theme. I kept waiting for it to get interesting and it just never happened. It's unfortunate because I thought the premise to be a good one but the author didn't "run with it".
Date published: 2013-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I couldn't resist. I bought Longbourne as a Christmas present for a friend who is a confirmed Janeite. When the book arrived, I picked it up, looked at it, read the first few pages: I was hooked.  The grinding, unrelenting work below stairs to keep up the elegant facade of the household and the characters who do that work were vividly imagined and sensitively portrayed.  The Regency elegance of the time was borne (long borne?) on the backs of servants who did not have the good fortune to be born one of the leisured classes.  The book is a thoroughly researched glimpse of the life of the servant, yet a loving and respectful homage to Pride and Prejudice.  I hope my friend enjoys her Christmas present as much as I enjoyed my sneak reading of it. I think she will.
Date published: 2013-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Warm, familiar - like wrapping yourself in your favourite quilt. For millions of book lovers, Pride and Prejudice holds a place in the heart usually reserved for first loves and best friends. It was the first book that completely transported so many of us into a story, made fiction feel truly real. Jane Austen opened the door to a family that even now, two hundred years later, seems so alive and so familiar - she made us feel the joys and the pains of Elizabeth, Jane, and all the residents of Longbourn House and Netherfield Park as if we were Bennets ourselves. Which is why reading Jo Baker’s new novel Longbourn feel so much like going home. Baker has taken the lives in Pride and Prejudice and brilliantly reimagined them through the eyes of the Bennets’ servants, but this is not merely some literary piggybacking. The staff “below stairs” are living, richly drawn characters who have their own tales to tell, and their stories are just as compelling, romantic, and full of twists as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s, and Baker tells them with compassion and a wit that does Jane Austen proud. Your heart will ache and leap for them as much as it did for the girls who live upstairs. After being immersed in the lives of Sarah (the maid), Mrs. Hill (the housekeeper), and James (the footman), I know it will be impossible to read Pride and Prejudice the same way ever again. Baker’s writing is simply that good. She has a vocabulary that echoes Austen, but she never tries to steal her voice. She uses Austen’s characters, but never abuses them – every word rings true, every phrase is a familiar song. Jo Baker, thank you for letting us go home to Longbourn.
Date published: 2013-09-19

– More About This Product –

Longbourn

by Jo Baker

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 352 pages, 9.56 × 6.53 × 1.31 in

Published: October 8, 2013

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 034581360X

ISBN - 13: 9780345813602

From the Publisher

A brilliantly imagined, irresistible below-stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice: a story of the romance, intrigue and drama among the servants of the Bennet household, a triumphant tale of defying society''s expectations, and an illuminating glimpse of working-class lives in Regency England.

The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen''s classic--take centre 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. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn''t in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.

About the Author

JO BAKER was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University and Queen''s University Belfast. She is the author of The Undertow, and of 3 earlier novels published in the United Kingdom: Offcomer, The Mermaid''s Child and The Telling. She lives in Lancaster.

Editorial Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER A New York Times Notable Book   “An elegantly executed twist on the celebrated story…. It has as much suspense, drama and romance as any Austen fan could hope for, coupled with a smart social commentary on the injustices of poverty and class in 19th-century England.”  — Chatelaine   “ Longbourn is delightfully audacious; after all, Jane Austen is a very tough act to follow…. An absorbing and moving story about the servants at Longbourn…. A work that’s both original and charming, even gripping, in its own right.”  — The New York Times Book Review   “Engrossing Austen homage…. Austen’s novel serves as a backdrop for the compelling stories of the characters who keep the Bennet household running.”  — Booklist (starred review)   “A must-read for fans of Austen, this literary tribute also stands on its own as a captivating love story.”  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)   “Densely plotted and achingly romantic. This exquisitely reimagined Pride and Prejudice will appeal to Austen devotees and to anyone who finds the goings-on below the stairs to be at least as compelling as the ones above. Highly recommended.”  — Library Journal (starred review) “Captivating and delicious. A brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the pa
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