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Longbourn [Kindle Edition]

Jo Baker
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (553 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

'If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,' Sarah thought, 'she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.'

It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and raw. Domestic life below stairs, ruled with a tender heart and an iron will by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman, bearing secrets and the scent of the sea.

Product Description


"Inspired...Baker has written an intoxicating love story but, also like Austen, the pleasure of her novel lies in its wit and fierce intelligence. Longbourn is a profound exploration of injustice, of poverty and dependence, of loyalty...a novel that contrives both to provoke the intellect and, ultimately, to stop the heart" (Guardian)

"Jo Baker gives us the story from the servants' perspectives and pulls off the seemingly impossible: a completely fresh take on Jane Austen. Utterly engrossing." (Guardian)

"ONES TO WATCH Just enough Darcy to delight, as well as being a fascinating insight into the harsh working conditions of life in a grand house 200 years ago" (Good Housekeeping)

"Debut novelist Jo Baker takes the reader on a journey back to a version of Regency England that is as much about poverty and war as social comedy and romance" (Metro)

"This clever glimpse of Austen's universe clouded by washday steam is so compelling it leaves you wanting to read the next chapter in the lives below stairs" (Daily Express)

"GREAT READS: Pride and Prejudice reimagined as a mysterious manservant stirs up passions in the Bennet household both upstairs and down" (Woman and Home)

"Captivating and delicious. A brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the parlours of Pride and Prejudice" (Maggie Shipstead, author of SEATING ARRANGEMENTS)

"The much-loved Pride and Prejudice is shaken up and given the grit that Jane Austen could never include - with great success" (Evening Standard)

"A novelist with a gift for intimate and atmospheric storytelling" (Financial Times)

"Superb... The lightest of touches by a highly accomplished young writer" (Mail on Sunday)

"Some writers let you know you're in safe hands from the start, and Jo Baker is one of them." (Independent)

"Splendid...Baker's imaginative leaps are stunningly well done both historically (the scenes set at the siege of Corunna are terrific) and emotionally...What a great film it will make (the rights sold early); the well-loved novel shaken up and given the grit which Jane Austen could never include." (Evening Standard)

"To twist something so familiar into something quite fresh is 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)

"An Austen lover has the satisfaction of matching the novels chapter for chapter. Lovely." (Observer)

"Longbourn is a fantastic feat of imagination, unflinching in its portrayal of war and the limitations of life for a servant - a novel you will want to shelve with the original classics you plan to read again and again." (Psychologies)


What bravery to take Pride And Prejudice as the springboard for a new novel! Bravery or, in the wrong hands, foolishness.

However, in relating Jane Austen's best-loved tale from the perspective of the Bennet family's servants, Jo Baker takes a fresh angle on a story that millions of diehard fans know inside out.

" (Sunday Express)

"Her depiction of the brutal realities of army life - a world away from the jolly officers of Austen's novel - is particularly powerful. Indeed, a burning sense of injustice is palpable throughout the book ... Sarah's story is so compelling that I kept forgetting that one of literature's most famous love stories was happening upstairs ... moving, gripping, unsentimental" (Irish Times)

"Longbourn is a really special book, and not only because its author writes like an angel" (Daily Mail)

"Painstakingly researched, it captures the atmosphere of Austen's England perfectly and is delivered in beautiful prose" (Sunday Mirror)

"Intelligent and elegantly written ... a fitting tribute, inventing a love story all of its own" (Wall Street Journal)

Book Description

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice below stairs - the story of romance, intrigue, and drama among the servants of the Bennet household

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1360 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (15 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CQ1D3BY
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (553 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,621 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Achievement 21 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
To contextualise: I am a big Austen fan and I teach "Pride and Prejudice" every year so I can be hard to please! For example, "Death Comes to Pemberley" was better on the TV in my opinion. What makes "Longbourn" a success is that it doesn't try to reimagine Elizabeth and Mr Darcy's courtship. In fact, the latter barely features which many will hate, but why the novel works. Baker also avoids massacring Austen's original characters - PD James's reworking of Colonel Fitzwilliam anyone? For diehard Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy fans - this is not for you. Naturally, both characters are remote. There will be some fans appalled by one or two plot twists involving Mrs Hill which are a bit more risqué. An enjoyable novel which tackles the criticism levelled at Austen: no awareness of the lower / servant classes, little awareness of the Napoleonic war and slavery / money from plantations. If you want more than 'P&P: The Redux' this is well worth your time.
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76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
'There could be no wearing of clothes without laundering, just as surely as there could be no going without clothes, not in Hertfordshire anyway, and not in September.'

I liked the premise the opening sentence makes clear - seeing the events of Pride and Prejeudice from the point of view of the servants and gaining insight into the lives of the ordinary classes that Austen barely mentions. The novel opens well but is somewhat formulaic. It's as if Baker decided to make a list of what Jane Austen leaves out: war, politics, sex with overworked servants and then wrote a novel to address those. Clearly Austen didn't write state of the nation novels but her dialogue was great, her characters always believable, and her wit sparkling. Despite the current fashion of considering P&P to be chick lit, it is a sharply observed novel on one strata of society. It is pitch perfect. This novel strained my credulity - can you imagine Mr Collins having a chat about his choice of Bennet girl with a maid? For me, it added few new insights into Jane Austen's novel despite key references to slavery and fortunes made from sugar. Those are important issues, as were the difficulties of dismissed servants and I would have felt that more if Jo Baker had been able to simply concentrate on her own characters. I suppose that is the key point. A book like Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Modern Classics) casts new light back on our reading of Jane Eyre (Wordsworth Classics) and particularly its view of women and the exploitation of the colonies. I don't think this novel pulled that off - perhaps because it tried to pack too much in.
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97 of 107 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Richly Imagined, Engaging and Entertaining 15 Aug. 2013
Jane Austen is a favourite author of mine and, as such, I have always avoided reading any sequels, prequels or retellings of her novels, as I feel they would only disappoint - however Jo Baker's 'Longbourn' is something rather different and I must admit that I was pulled into this book from the very first pages. 'Longbourn' focuses on the lives of the servants who work for the Bennet family (from 'Pride and Prejudice') and the story is told almost entirely from the servants' perspective, so there is a lot of gritty 'downstairs' life and very little of the more genteel 'upstairs' variety.

In the servants' quarters we meet our main heroine, the housemaid Sarah, an attractive and determined young woman, similar in age to the older Bennet girls, but obviously leading a very different life. Then there is the cook/housekeeper, Mrs Hill (who has a painful secret she has had to keep hidden for years), her husband, Mr Hill, the butler (a man with secrets of his own) and lastly, twelve-year-old Polly, the kitchen maid. Into their busy, but quiet and uneventful lives arrives a new footman, James Smith, a dark, attractive man with a rather mysterious past, who finds himself falling for Sarah. However, Sarah, although initially attracted to James, feels a little rebuffed by his reluctance to discuss his past life, and consequently she finds herself becoming rather interested in the very good-looking Mulatto manservant, Ptolemy, who works for the Bingleys at Netherfield Park. But what is it that James is trying to hide from Sarah and should Sarah really be considering Ptolemy in a romantic light? (No spoilers, we learn most of this early on in the novel and there is a lot more for prospective readers to discover and enjoy).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunningly good book 10 May 2014
By NJL1974
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the other side of Pride and Prejudice - seen from the point of view of the servants and domestic staff, who have their own lives and loves, but who are constantly vulnerable to those 'above' them. For them, life is 'a trial by endurance, which everybody, eventually fails'.

This book succeeds in every facet. It is full of historical detail, whether of the drudgery of daily life or the horrors of an early nineteenth century war. The great and well known story of Austen's book is always relevant, but deftly kept in the background of this tale. Sarah and Smith, the lead characters are beautifully drawn, the former innocent but knowing and the latter more worldly but anchored in decency. There is immense confidence in the writing, which is not afraid to take its time to tell the story, yet rarely drags. An outstanding achievement - highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Adored it!
As an Austen fan I pre-ordered this book and waited with bated breath for the arrival of it in my letterbox. I was not disappointed. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Natasha.S.
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it even though I probably wouldn't have chosen it ...
This was a book club choice. I enjoyed it even though I probably wouldn't have chosen it myself. Upstairs downstairs and interesting background on how hard the staff were... Read more
Published 8 days ago by AnnieRobertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and cant put it down
Very nice book. Only a few chapters in so far but its got me hooked, which is no that common. Well written and a different take on the Bennett household from below stairs.
Published 10 days ago by Nikkiwikki
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a wonderful portrait of Georgian life and I really appreciate...
Our main heroine is Sarah, housemaid to the Bennet family. Through her eyes we see the realities of a Georgian household: the cleaning and cooking, running around on errands and... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Karen Bultiauw
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyable for Austen fans.
Published 14 days ago by Helen
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I am reading it with a friend and we are both enjoying it having read 'Pride and Predudice'
Published 15 days ago by Mrs Sonya A Chilcott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed book very much
Published 19 days ago by Colin S.
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, predictable
I plodded through this book and wasn't very impressed. The writing is fine, but the plot is drawn out and boring. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Pixx
5.0 out of 5 stars I think she has superbly captured the poor lot of the servant girl
Jo Baker's writing is exquisite. Neither too flowery or pared back for me. The plotting is perfectly paced without resorting to false action and contrived situations. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Lady Blah Blah
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book. Will read again and again
Brilliant book. Will read again and again.
Published 24 days ago by Ava
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