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If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.
For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.
Described as Pride and Prejudice meets Downtown Abbey, Jane Austen's classic is reimagined from the servants' point of view.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
One book trumps Trollope and flattens Fielding. Jo Baker's brilliant retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the servants at Longbourn, the Bennett Family home, is the perfect way to mark the bicentenary of that book's birth.
So much more than an upstairs downstairs rehash, this is cleverly choreographed to enter the room as the Bennett sisters exit.
Rich in period detail, it brings a new dimension to a classic.
About the Author
Jo Baker was educated at Oxford and The Queen's University, Belfast. She lives in Lancaster with her husband, the playwright Daragh Carville, and their two children. Longbourn is due to be made into a film produced by Focus Features.
"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 "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 "GREAT READS: Pride and Prejudice reimagined as a mysterious manservant stirs up passions in the Bennet household both upstairs and down" woman and Home "Superb... The lightest of touches by a highly accomplished young writer" Mail on Sunday "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 "A must-read for fans of Jane Austen, this literary tribute also stands on its own as a captivating love story" Publisher's Weekly "A fantastic feat of imagination, unflinching in its portrayal of war and the limitations of life for a servant" Psychologies Magazine "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 "Longbourn is a really special book, and not only because its author writes like an angel" Daily Mail "Densely plotted and achingly romantic. This exquisitely reimagined Pride and Prejudice will appeal to Austen devotees and to anyone who finds the goings-on below stairs to be at least as compelling as the ones above " Library Journal "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
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 1st August 2013
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.48