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A brilliantly imagined, irresistible below-stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice: a story of the romance, intrigue, and drama among the servants of the Bennet household, a triumphant tale of defying society's expectations, and an illuminating glimpse of working-class lives in Regency England.
The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen's classic--take center stage in Jo Baker's lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn't in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.
A Best Book of the Year Selection: "New York Times "100 Notable, "Seattle Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Kirkus Reviews" Masterful . . . From the same stream that fed Austen s literary imagination, Baker has drawn forth something entirely new and fresh. "Miami Herald" Happily, "Longbourn "is no mere riff but a fully imagined rejoinder to "Price and Prejudice ." . . Austen would have appreciated Baker s bracing rewrite from the underdog s point of view. "Newsday" If you are a Jane Austen fan with a pronounced predilection for "Pride and Prejudice, "you will devour Jo Baker s ingenious "Longbourn "as the ambrosia from the Austen gods it is . . .It s an idea that could have felt derivative or sycophantic in its execution, and yet the novel is rich, engrossing, and filled with fascinating observation . . . Dive in and you might even forget to watch "Downton Abbey." "O "magazine Intelligent and elegantly written . . . "Longbourn "reveals these messy backdrops [of "Pride and Prejudice"]" "while still, in fitting tribute, inventing a touching love story of its own. "Wall Street Journal" An absorbing and moving story about the servants at Longbourn . . . Both original and charming, even gripping . . . If Charlotte Bronte had taken up the challenge of a sequel to "Pride and Prejudice, "she might very well have hit upon the sort of broader, more sympathetic point of view Jo Baker has derived from the servants quarters. Diane Johnson, "New York Times Book Review" "Longbourn "is a bold novel, subversive in ways that prove surprising, and brilliant on every level. This is a masterful twist on a classic . . . Much more than a frothy, "Downton Abbey"-like twist on Austen. This novel is moving, filled with suspense, and impressive for the sympathy with which it explores the drudgery of the servants lives, as well as their heartaches. That said, there s plenty of Austen-worthy wit too. "USA Today" Delightful . . . The achievement of Baker s reworking is that Sarah is no mere foil for Elizabeth Bennet; her notions of individual agency and the pursuit of happiness push more forcefully against the class and social strictures of her time than any character in Austen s novel. The result is a heroine whom it s impossible not to root for. "The New Yorker""" A witty, richly detailed re-imagining of "Pride and Prejudice . . . "Fans of Austen and "Downton Abbey "will take particular pleasure in "Longbourn, "but any reader with a taste for well-researched historical fiction will delight in Baker s involving, informative tale. "People" A triumph: asplendid tribute to Austen s original but, more importantly, a joy in its own right . . . Like Austen, Baker has written an intoxicating love story but, also like Austen, the pleasure of her novel liesinits wit and fierce intelligence . . . Baker not only creates a richly imagined story ofher own but recasts Austen s novel in a startlingly fresh light . . . Inspired. "The Guardian" Diehards who love Jane Austen and "Downton Abbey "will fan their corseted bosoms while tearing through this novel. "Entertainment Weekly" The servants have complicated, messy, interesting lives that are every bit as compelling as the Bennet girls quest for husbands. NPR Weekend Edition Irresistible . . . Sequels and prequels rarely add to the original, but Baker s simple yet inspired reimagining does. It has best-seller stamped all over it. "Kirkus Reviews "(starred) "Longbourn "is a really special book, and not only because its author writes like an angel. Its real achievement is to circumnavigate the world of Austen knock-offs and return, like Francis Drake, with a hold full of treasure" ." . . There are some wildly sad and romantic moments; I was sobbing by the end . . . A beautiful book. "Daily Mail "(UK)"" "Longbourn "is told with glee and great wit, and will delight diehard Austen fans. "The Daily Beast" Inspired . . . This is a genuinely fresh perspective on the tale of the Bennet household . . . A lot of fun. "Sunday Times "(UK) An especially appealing, and timely, reworking of the classic . . . Much as Jean Rhys s reimagining of "Jane Eyre "through a postcolonial perspective became popular in the late nineteen-sixties, when "Wide Sargasso Sea "was published, so is Baker s class-conscious reconsideration of "Pride and Prejudice "representative of our own time."" "NewYorker.com" Beautifully realized . . . [The characters below stairs] are every bit as absorbing as Lizzy, Wickham, and Darcy. "The National" A splendid page-turner . . . The much-loved "Pride and Prejudice "is shaken up and given the grit that Jane Austen could never include with great success . . . Baker s imaginative leaps are stunningly well done, both historically and emotionally. "Evening Standard "(UK) A must-read for fans of Austen, this literary tribute also stands on its own as a captivating love story . . . Baker takes many surprising risks in developing the relationships between the servants and the Bennets, but the end result steers clear of gimmick and flourishes as a respectful and moving retelling. "Publishers Weekly "(starred) Captivating. . .A brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the parlors of "Pride and Prejudice." Maggie Shipstead, author of "Seating Arrangements" 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 "(UK) Achingly romantic . . . This exquisitely reimagined "Pride and Prejudice "will appeal to Austen devotees and to anyone who finds the goings-on below the stairs to be at least as compelling as the ones above. Highly recommended. "Library Journal "(starred) If "Longbourn"is received as a delicious concoction of"Pride and Prejudice"meets"Downton Abbey, "then, for commercial reasons, no one will feel sorry for Jo Baker, but for artistic ones, she will have been treated unfairly. Baker is a real and very fine writer, and "Longbourn" stands on its own as an engrossing, intelligent historical novel. At the same time, its resonances with "Pride and Prejudice" go much farther than its brilliantly plausible presentation of downstairs life: critics have long striven to prove that the great issues of Austen's time slavery, war, enclosures impinged on her work; Baker shows us the fermentation below the froth. James Collins, author of "Beginner s Greek" This clever glimpse of Austen s universe through a window clouded by washday steam is so compelling it leaves you wanting to read the next chapter in the lives below stairs rather than peer at the reflections of any grand party in the mirrors of Netherfield. "Daily Express "(UK)"
Number Of Pages: 560
Published: 8th October 2013
Publisher: Random House USA Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.54
Edition Number: 1
Edition Type: Large type / large print