Review: Longbourn, Jo Baker

Longbourn, Jo Baker
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

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire. She was educated at Oxford and at Queen's University, Belfast, where she completed a PhD on the work of the Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen. Jo Baker has also written for BBC Radio 4, and her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. From 2001-2003 she was the Artistic Director of the Belfast Literary Festival. She lives in Belfast with her husband, the playwright and screenwriter Daragh Carville, and their son Daniel.

This book was on my wish list for a while so when it was mentioned for book group I was really happy. I really enjoyed the developments in this story. Knowing the story of Pride and Prejudice by heart I was surprised how little the servants story connected. Just a few of the general situations overlap in the story making it easy to read this book even if you are not familiar with Pride and Prejudice.
I really liked Sarah. She is smart and aware of her position in the same time. Often wishing for more she realizes that her position at the house is pretty good and I like the way she thinks about it. Though I did have a hard time deciding on her age as at points she could be childish. I enjoyed how not only the social ladder from the servants to the rest of the house where made clear but also the one between the servants. Mrs. Hill was obviously from a pretty good household and it was obvious she would be the head of a household where Sarah would most likely always be a maid unless she would marry an important male servant even though she was smart.
The book can be read as a light and entertaining read but there are some deeper subjects in the book too if you are looking for a more thoughtful story.

Longbourn
Author: Jo Baker
Publisher: Vintage Books
Pages: 433
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780804171618
Vintage Books: various
Longbourn

4 stars

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26 December, 2014 delete

I have been eying this one for a while and think you’ve convinced me!

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08 January, 2015 delete

I need to read this one!

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