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.
Longbourn by Jo Baker looked really interesting. It is Pride and Prejudice from the servant's point of view. I have read and liked Pride and Prejudice and I also like Jane Austen so I was excited about getting started on Longbourn. Longbourn turned out to be a good read.
Sarah is the maid at Longbourn. She does all the work in the house. There may be a lot of activity going on upstairs with Mr. and Mrs. Bennett and the Bennett sisters but things below remain the same. I really liked Sarah. She might be a servant but she wanted so much more from life. She is a hardworking girl and just wants to be noticed for it.
Things change in Sarah's life when a new footman James arrives. Sarah knows James is hiding something. But it just seems like no one in the house hold can see this except her. I liked James. He was quiet and just wanted everyone to overlook his presence. He wanted to earn his meals and go to bed. Having seeing too much during war, he has no intention of letting anyone in. But Sarah finds a way.
Sarah and James' story is just a thread in Longbourn. The book is divided into three volumes. The first two being the present with Sarah's story from the beginning. Here we get to meet the housekeeper Mrs. Hill and the young Polly. The third volume we get the most from James' point of view seeing what he had been through.
Longbourn reads like a classic. Its pacing is slow but if you're in the mood for this kind of read it makes for an excellent pick. Jo Baker's writing is descriptive and it makes you feel as though you're living in those times. Overall, I enjoyed reading Longbourn.
*Note: A copy of this book was provided by Random House India in exchange for an honest review. We thank them.