Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Longbourn review

I'm generally wary of Pride and Prejudice adaptations or interpretations. I read one a few years ago that was average at best, and it put me off a bit.

However, give me a novel with an interesting premise, and I'll be right there.

Longbourn by Jo Baker is Pride and Prejudice from the servants' point of view. Definitely interesting enough to perk my interest. And it's a really, really good read.

There's lots of descriptions of laundry day and of the working lives of Mr and Mrs Hill, and the housemaids Sarah and Polly. Their lives are ordered and quiet - and busy - until new footman James Smith starts working at Longbourn.

James sets the cat among the pigeons in the best and worst way, especially for Sarah.

I liked it, I liked it a lot. It has a lovely, cosy feel to it, and the characters are all very well-realised, especially Sarah the housemaid, who is striving for something more.

Baker's take on some of the main Pride and Prejudice characters is interesting, as minor players as they are in Longbourn - especially the unfortunate Mr Collins, who she presents in an unexpectedly sympathetic light.

But Longbourn belongs to the servants, Sarah in particular, and Mrs Hill, in a peculiar way.

A very pleasant and pleasing read. :-)


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I was wary of reading this, but a flick through the pages showed me that the writing was lovely. I like that the Longbourn servants were given a voice, although I had a major problem with the small number of servants and their doubling up on roles within the household, but that's just me being pedantic. I was a bit surprised about the way she treated Mr & Mrs B, but Sarah is very well-written. Baker is coming to WA for the Perth Writer's Festival, but I'm too lazy to go. :)

Violet @ Still Life With Books
Sorry about the dodgy login credentials but that's the only way I can comment on blogs that don't have Name/URL enabled.

Maree said...

There were some things that took me a bit to get used to, I think for me the whole Mr Collins thing was the most surprising.

Aw, I understand though. It'd be interesting to meet her though, I think :-)

Ana S. said...

We just got a bunch of shiny new copies of this at work. I am now mightily tempted.

Kailana said...

I am kind of curious about this, but I have got the impression from other reviews that I might not be enough of a P&P fan to enjoy this as much as others.

Maree said...

Ana: Yay!! I think you'd like it, actually. :-)

Kailana: Hmmmm.... well, my favourite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion, and I had no problems with it. :-)