Monday, December 02, 2013

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn by Jo Baker

As any Jane Austen fan knows, there are dozens of sequels/spin-offs to Pride and Prejudice.  Usually, the author simply continues the story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, or perhaps one of the other Bennet sisters.  In Longbourn, Jo Baker approaches this familiar story from a different angle -- the perspective of the servants.

When a new footman arrives at the estate, Sarah, a housemaid, is convinced that there is some mystery in his past.  While all of the other servants accept him readily, she is less convinced by his charms, and attempts to discover his secret.

Rich with period details, Baker draws us into this below-stairs world of Longbourn.  The novel follows the timeline of Pride and Prejudice, and the reader gets a rare glimpse of servant life during the pivotal moments of the original.  Every time letters are exchanged between the Bennet sisters and the Bingleys, for example, the housemaids have the opportunity to flirt with the footman who delivers the messages.

Longbourn will be enjoyed by fans of both Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.  Readers who enjoy this novel may also enjoy some other Austen spin-offs, such as Death Comes to Pemberley, Jane Fairfax, Lost in Austen, and Austenland.

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