FYI: I lost two bookmarks while trying to read this book, one my son chewed into pieces and the second he hid god knows where!
Longbourn by Jo Baker Goodreads Synopsis:
• 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 below stairs 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.
I loved the line “If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them”.
I loved Mrs Hill, Sarah and Polly and Felt for them. The twist concerning James’s parentage did not sit right with me and just felt wrong. However, ignoring that I was able to enjoy the story and Bar Mr Bennet, I was happy with Bakers take on the characters and they felt Austen approvable to me.
I really enjoyed reading the servants take on the Bennet’s and their dramas. I found it interesting, I had never really thought about who washed and cooked and the entire goings on in the background of Pride and Prejudice as I was always too caught up with Mr Darcy.
The love story: Sarah an orphan taken and raised my Mrs Hill as a housemaid at Longbourn and who gets worked ragged and ends up understandably fed up with her life. James comes along and gets himself a job as footmen and that is when things start to get interesting. Like I said before if you ignore the premises of James parentage his back-story as a on the run disgraced solder is fascinating.
Even though Sarah and James end up together and happy, I felt like the ending was not good enough. All the characters get happy-ish endings; I just felt that James and Sarah deserved more. I mean hell if you are going to go all out and say Mr Bennet had a Love child with his housekeeper Mrs Hill at least have him come clean about it in the end, as then James not Mr Collins would inherit the Longbourn estate and Sarah and James could live happily ever after, safe and sound!
I rated it 3 out of 5 stars, because this Mr Bennet was not the Mr Bennet that I know and love.