Tuesday 24 September 2013

Longbourn ~ Jo Baker

August 2013

I'm always a little bit wary when I read spin-offs written around one of the great Jane Austen classics, but I am pleased to say that Jo Baker has done a really good job with this interesting look at life below stairs for the servants of the Bennett family from Pride and Prejudice.

In the actual classic we hear very little of the servants, in fact they remain rather shadowy figures who existed only to keep the Bennetts clean ,warm and fed. But of course, they had lives and loves of their own, and aspirations, hopes and dreams that were not all that different from the folks upstairs.

Of course, running through the story like a thread is the original story of thwarted love and too much pride, but rather than having a starring role, Darcy's pursuit of Elizabeth plays second fiddle to servant Sarah's infatuation with the Bingley's footman, the aptly named Ptolemy Bingley. However, it is Sarah's realisation that showy manners and sparkling wit are no substitute for the solid and rather more understated feeling she has for the Bennett's own footman, James, which becomes quietly reflective.

Jo Baker has woven an altogether delicious story of warm camaraderie  based on wholesome values, and has instilled in her characters a real sense of purpose. Life certainly wasn't a bed of roses in the servant's quarters at Longbourn House, but in this story, neither was it all unrelenting drudgery.

Well worth a read if you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice.

My thanks to Josette at Risi for lending me a copy of this book.

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