Longbourn by Jo BakerLongbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn

byJo BakerRead byEmma Fielding

Audio Book (CD) | October 8, 2013

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Pride and Prejudice was only half the story •
 
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 belowstairs 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. 

Heather's Review

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 s...

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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.
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Title:LongbournFormat:Audio Book (CD)Dimensions:5.9 × 5.1 × 1.12 inPublished:October 8, 2013Publisher:Penguin Random House Audio Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804149402

ISBN - 13:9780804149402

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Delightful. I, like millions of others, can't get enough of Pride and Prejudice. I thoroughly enjoyed another view of life in the Bennett household. Well written, and a lovely little tale.
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Worth the Hype I can't believe this novel was so highly rated. I felt like the writing was terrible, the main character was so whiny and spiteful, and there were way too many pointless sections. In regards to the pointless sections, there were many mini scenes that I felt were so pointless - and so short (I'm pretty sure there was at least one one paragraph scene) - and so many parts where Sarah focuses on using her senses to feel things around her (or notices something about her or the things around her) that really added nothing to the story. Sarah really was a terrible character. She was so spiteful about her job (it didn't seem like the daughters gave her as much trouble as she cursed them for) and John, and she was so foolishly in love with Ptolemy for barely any reason (and she didn't even end up with him), that she really lacked any likeable aspects. The part of the book where we learn about Mrs. Hill's secret and John's past almost made the book decent in the way things intersected and started to make sense, but again it didn't add much to the story - especially when John ran away, like usual, and Sarah ended up finding him (neither of them really learning anything or having fought for their happy ending). I felt the family's life was terribly interwoven into the story - they might as well not have even been in it. They just felt so separate and flat that I couldn't care less about whatever was happening with them, either. For all the hype and recommendations, this book really fell flat. I'm not familiar with Austen's work so I can't compare it to the original, but as a standalone it was just dreadful. I didn't find it well written, the characters were bland, the plot and subplots were boring, and I just couldn't enjoy it at all.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Longbourn Realistic retelling of Pride and Prejudice from "downstairs". A whole different prespective than the usual sequels or prequels,
Date published: 2014-12-26
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 5 out of 5 by from Very nice read I wish there was more to the ending. Felt a bit abrupt but satisfying. I stayed up way too late in many nights just to get past an important part. It's well written and a great accompaniment to Jane Austen's Literature.
Date published: 2014-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pride and Prejudice + Downton Abbey This book is a wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a Downton Abbey twist. I enjoyed seeing the Bennets from the perspective of their servants, and various new characters who helped freshen the well-loved story. Longbourn captures what I love about Pride and Prejudice and creates a rich look at love, work, and ambition in a Regency-era household.
Date published: 2014-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Longbourn. I have read "Pride and Prejudice" several times and I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Longbourn" and the lives of the servants and understanding how difficult their lives were in those days of servitude. Well written and very enjoyable.
Date published: 2014-08-14
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 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating As an avid re-reader of Pride & Prejudice, I found suggested answers to many of my own musings about what was really going on around them when Elizabeth and her family were caught up in their own concerns. Very Downton Abbey.
Date published: 2014-03-02
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 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating Really enjoyed.
Date published: 2014-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating I loved it! Her turn of phrase, her language is very pleasing. And of course the plot, holds you right to the end!
Date published: 2014-02-05
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 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating For true Jane Austen fans, Longbourn is easily compared to it's inspiration, Pride and Prejudice. Unlike other P&P stories, Jo Baker has created a story that is easily capable of standing on it's own. Individuals who have never read Austen are easily able to following along. Each character has their own unique story and Baker has successfully managed to intertwine each of them, not unlike true stories from that era. Read for a book club, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and am very much looking forward to Jo Baker's next story. The novel caused me to re-evaluate the beloved characters from Austen's novel, some for the better and others not so much. I would highly recommend this story to all of my dearest friends.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating A great read! This is the flip side of an already familiar story, That of Pride and Prejudice.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating Interesting take on the life of servants at the time of Jane Austen's most popular work. Characters in Pride and Prejudice are mentioned in passing given that the emphasis is on the servants of the Bennett household. Interesting plot twist re: Mr. Bennett and the housekeeper.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating Good read, easy to follow. This book stays true to the original characters of Pride and Prejudice but provides the reader with a wider and deeper perspective of life at Longbourn. Although I did enjoy the story, it was enough to read it once, some characters did feel a bit flat.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating I found this book to be a unique and interesting take on the beloved and much-used Pride and Prejudice story. It was a fresh, if somewhat dark, look at that era, without resorting to the addition of vampires-zombies-etc.With the original story line used as more of an anchoring point than a plot, it gives readers a look at how the other half lived.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating This is a great read, little peek at Pemberly and The Darcys!
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating I love these kinds of stories,I really enjoyed
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating This book has a much darker feel than Pride and Prejudice and it may not be suitable for all avid readers of Jane Austen. Whilst a good story in it's own right, some readers may be put off by some language and some concepts that are not typically found in Austen novels. I think that the book would have been better if the author did not rely on the Bennet household to tell her story.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating A wonderful story of the servants of Longbourn. The story of Pride and Prejudice is a periphery. A great look at how the other half lived. So enriching, and brings so much more to the story of P&P. Thoroughly recommended.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating I enjoyed this book overall, although some parts were dragged out at times. But, I could easily just skim over anything tedious & get back to the interesting parts. I'm a big fan of Pride & Prejudice so reading the story from a different point of view was interesting.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating Richly textured book. As a big fan of Austen's characters it was wonderful to read a new voice blow life into some of her undeveloped characters. If you love period literature, you will love this book.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating I loved this book. Beautifully written and keeps with the original story while still giving you a new, full and unique story. Absolute pleasure to read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of classic literature!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Satisfying and vindicating Finishing this book felt like a chore. Reading about Sarah's work load, ruined hands and chilblains every five sentences quickly got boring. If it wasn't for the hope of something great to come (it never did) I wouldn't have finished the book.
Date published: 2014-01-23
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

Read from the Book

Chapter II   ‘Whatever bears affinity to cunning is despicable.’   They were lucky to get him. That was what Mr B. said, as he folded his newspaper and set it aside. What with the War in Spain, and the press of so many able fellows into the Navy; there was, simply put, a dearth of men.   A dearth of men? Lydia repeated the phrase, anxiously searching her sisters’ faces: was this indeed the case? Was England running out of men?   Her father raised his eyes to heaven; Sarah, meanwhile, made big astonished eyes at Mrs Hill: a new servant joining the household! A manservant! Why hadn’t she mentioned it before? Mrs Hill, clutching the coffee pot to her bosom, made big eyes back, and shook her head: shhh! I don’t know, and don’t you dare ask! So Sarah just gave half a nod, clamped her lips shut, and returned her attention to the table, proffering the platter of cold ham: all would come clear in good time, but it did not do to ask. It did not do to speak at all, unless directly addressed. It was best to be deaf as a stone to these conversations, and seem as incapable of forming an opinion on them.   Miss Mary lifted the serving fork and skewered a slice of ham. ‘Papadoesn’t mean your beaux, Lydia – do you, Papa?’   Mr B., leaning out of the way so that Mrs Hill could pour his coffee, said that indeed he did not mean her beaux: Lydia’s beaux always seemed to be in more than plentiful supply. But of working men there was a genuine shortage, which is why he had settled with this lad so promptly – this with an apologetic glance to Mrs Hill, as she moved around him and went to fill his wife’s cup – though the quarter day of Michaelmas was not quite yet upon them, it being the more usual occasion for the hiring and dismissal of servants.   ‘You don’t object to this hasty act, I take it, Mrs Hill?’   ‘Indeed I am very pleased to hear of it, sir, if he be a decent sort of fellow.’   ‘He is, Mrs Hill; I can assure you of that.’   ‘Who is he, Papa? Is he from one of the cottages? Do we know the family?’   Mr B. raised his cup before replying. ‘He is a fine upstanding young man, of good family. I had an excellent character of him.’   ‘I, for one, am very glad that we will have a nice young man to drive us about,’ said Lydia, ‘for when Mr Hill is perched up there on the carriage box it always looks like we have trained a monkey, shaved him here and there and put him in a hat.’   Mrs Hill stepped away from the table, and set the coffee pot down on the buffet. ‘Lydia!’ Jane and Elizabeth spoke at once.   ‘What? He does, you know he does. Just like a spider-monkey, like the one Mrs Long’s sister brought with her from London.’   Mrs Hill looked down at a willow-pattern dish, empty, though crusted round with egg. The three tiny people still crossed their tiny bridge, and the tiny boat crawled like an earwig across the china sea, and all was calm there, and unchanging, and perfect. She breathed. Miss Lydia meant no harm, she never did. And however heedlessly she expressed herself, she was right: this change was certainly to be welcomed. Mr Hill had become, quite suddenly, old. Last winter had been a worrying time: the long drives, the late nights while the ladies danced or played at cards; he had got deeply cold, and had shivered for hours by the fire on his return, his breath rattling in his chest. The coming winter’s balls and parties might have done for him entirely. A nice young man to drive the carriage, and to take up the slack about the house; it could only be to the good.   Mrs Bennet had heard tell, she was now telling her husband and daughters delightedly, of how in the best households they had nothing but manservants waiting on the family and guests, on account of every- one knowing that they cost more in the way of wages, and that there was a high tax to pay on them, because all the fit strong fellows were wanted for the fields and for the war. When it was known that the Bennets now had a smart young man about the place, waiting at table, opening the doors, it would be a thing of great note and marvel in the neighbourhood.   ‘I am sure our daughters should be vastly grateful to you, for letting us appear to such advantage, Mr Bennet. You are so considerate. What, pray, is the young fellow’s name?   ‘His given name is James,’ Mr Bennet said. ‘The surname is a very common one. He is called Smith.’   ‘James Smith.’   It was Mrs Hill who had spoken, barely above her breath, but the words were said. Jane lifted her cup and sipped; Elizabeth raised her eyebrows but stared at her plate; Mrs B. glanced round at her house- keeper. Sarah watched a flush rise up Mrs Hill’s throat; it was all so new and strange that even Mrs Hill had forgot herself for a moment. And then Mr B. swallowed, and cleared his throat, breaking the silence.   ‘As I said, a common enough name. I was obliged to act with some celerity in order to secure him, which is why you were not sooner informed, Mrs Hill; I would much rather have consulted you in advance.’   Cheeks pink, the housekeeper bowed her head in acknowledgement.   ‘Since the servants’ attics are occupied by your good self, your husband and the housemaids, I have told him he might sleep above the stables. Other than that, I will leave the practical and domestic details to you. He knows he is to defer to you in all things.’   ‘Thank you, sir,’ she murmured.   ‘Well.’ Mr B. shook out his paper, and retreated behind it. ‘There we are, then. I am glad that it is all settled.’   ‘Yes,’ said Mrs B. ‘Are you not always saying, Hill, how you need another pair of hands about the place? This will lighten your load, will it not? This will lighten all your loads.’   Their mistress took in Sarah with a wave of her plump hand, and then, with a flap towards the outer reaches of the house, indicated the rest of the domestic servants: Mr Hill who was hunkered in the kitchen, riddling the fire, and Polly who was, at that moment, thumping down the back stairs with a pile of wet Turkish towels and a scowl.   ‘You should be very grateful to Mr Bennet for his thoughtfulness, I am sure.’   ‘Thank you, sir,’ said Sarah.   The words, though softly spoken, made Mrs Hill glance across at her; the two of them caught eyes a moment.   ‘Thank you, sir,’ said Mrs Hill.   Mrs Bennet dabbed a further spoonful of jam on her remaining piece of buttered muffin, popped it in her mouth, and chewed it twice; she spoke around her mouthful: ‘That’ll be all, Hill.’   Mr B. looked up from his paper at his wife, and then at his housekeeper.   ‘Yes, thank you very much, Mrs Hill,’ he said. ‘That will be all for now.’

Editorial Reviews

A Best Book of the Year Selection: New York Times 100 Notable, Seattle Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Kirkus Reviews “Masterful . . . From the same stream that fed Austen’s literary imagination, Baker has drawn forth something entirely new and fresh.” —Miami Herald“Happily, Longbourn is no mere riff but a fully imagined rejoinder to Price and Prejudice  . . . Austen would have appreciated Baker’s bracing rewrite from the underdog’s point of view.” —Newsday“If you are a Jane Austen fan with a pronounced predilection for Pride and Prejudice, you will devour Jo Baker’s ingenious Longbourn as the ambrosia from the Austen gods it is . . . It’s an idea that could have felt derivative or sycophantic in its execution, and yet the novel is rich, engrossing, and filled with fascinating observation . . . Dive in and you might even forget to watch Downton Abbey.” —O magazine“Intelligent and elegantly written . . . Longbourn reveals these messy backdrops [of Pride and Prejudice] while still, in fitting tribute, inventing a touching love story of its own.” —Wall Street Journal“An absorbing and moving story about the servants at Longbourn . . . Both original and charming, even gripping . . . If Charlotte Brontë had taken up the challenge of a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, she might very well have hit upon the sort of broader, more sympathetic point of view Jo Baker has derived from the servants’ quarters.” —Diane Johnson, New York Times Book Review“Longbourn is a bold novel, subversive in ways that prove surprising, and brilliant on every level. This is a masterful twist on a classic . . . Much more than a frothy, Downton Abbey-like twist on Austen. This novel is moving, filled with suspense, and impressive for the sympathy with which it explores the drudgery of the servants’ lives, as well as their heartaches. That said, there’s plenty of Austen-worthy wit too.” —USA Today “Delightful . . . The achievement of Baker’s reworking is that Sarah is no mere foil for Elizabeth Bennet; her notions of individual agency and the pursuit of happiness push more forcefully against the class and social strictures of her time than any character in Austen’s novel. The result is a heroine whom it’s impossible not to root for.” —The New Yorker “A witty, richly detailed re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice . . . Fans of Austen and Downton Abbey will take particular pleasure in Longbourn, but any reader with a taste for well-researched historical fiction will delight in Baker’s involving, informative tale.” —People“A triumph: a splendid tribute to Austen’s original but, more importantly, a joy in its own right . . . 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 . . . Baker not only creates a richly imagined story of her own but recasts Austen’s novel in a startlingly fresh light . . . Inspired.” —The Guardian “Diehards who love Jane Austen and Downton Abbey will fan their corseted bosoms while tearing through this novel.” —Entertainment Weekly“The servants have complicated, messy, interesting lives that are every bit as compelling as the Bennet girls’ quest for husbands.” —NPR “Weekend Edition”“Irresistible . . . Sequels and prequels rarely add to the original, but Baker’s simple yet inspired reimagining does. It has best-seller stamped all over it.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)“Longbourn is a really special book, and not only because its author writes like an angel. Its real achievement is to circumnavigate the world of Austen knock-offs and return, like Francis Drake, with a hold full of treasure . . . There are some wildly sad and romantic moments; I was sobbing by the end . . . A beautiful book.” —Daily Mail (UK) “Longbourn is told with glee and great wit, and will delight diehard Austen fans.” —The Daily Beast“Inspired . . . This is a genuinely fresh perspective on the tale of the Bennet household . . . A lot of fun.” —Sunday Times (UK)  “An especially appealing, and timely, reworking of the classic . . . Much as Jean Rhys’s reimagining of Jane Eyre through a postcolonial perspective became popular in the late nineteen-sixties, when Wide Sargasso Sea was published, so is Baker’s class-conscious reconsideration of Pride and Prejudice representative of our own time.” —NewYorker.com “Beautifully realized . . . [The characters below stairs] are every bit as absorbing as Lizzy, Wickham, and Darcy.” —The National“A splendid page-turner . . . The much-loved Pride and Prejudice is shaken up and given the grit that Jane Austen could never include—with great success . . . Baker’s imaginative leaps are stunningly well done, both historically and emotionally.” —Evening Standard (UK) “A must-read for fans of Austen, this literary tribute also stands on its own as a captivating love story . . . Baker takes many surprising risks in developing the relationships between the servants and the Bennets, but the end result steers clear of gimmick and flourishes as a respectful and moving retelling.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)“Captivating . . . A brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the parlors of Pride and Prejudice.” —Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements“Impressive . . . Baker takes ownership of this world without mimicking Austen’s style, asserting instead her own distinctive, authentic voice. Longbourn is not just nicely packaged fan fiction, or an Austenian Downton Abbey; it’s an engrossing tale we neither know nor expect.” —Daily Telegraph (UK)“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)“If Longbourn is received as a delicious concoction of Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey, then, for commercial reasons, no one will feel sorry for Jo Baker, but for artistic ones, she will have been treated unfairly. Baker is a real and very fine writer, and Longbourn stands on its own as an engrossing, intelligent historical novel. At the same time, its resonances with Pride and Prejudice go much farther than its brilliantly plausible presentation of downstairs life: critics have long striven to prove that the great issues of Austen's time—slavery, war, enclosures—impinged on her work; Baker shows us the fermentation below the froth.” —James Collins, author of Beginner’s Greek “This clever glimpse of Austen’s universe through a window clouded by washday steam is so compelling it leaves you wanting to read the next chapter in the lives below stairs rather than peer at the reflections of any grand party in the mirrors of Netherfield.” —Daily Express (UK)