Longbourn by Jo Baker

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined below stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended. 

Jo Baker's Longbourn is sort of Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey, a retelling of our favorite Jane Austen novel but in the point of view of those who are living downstairs - the servants.

We are introduced to the hardworking Mrs. Hill, her husband Mr. Hill, the young maid Polly though the story focuses on the orphaned maid Sarah and the new mysterious footman James.

Sarah wants do live her life more than her everyday chores of washing petticoats or cleaning kettles and suddenly life at Longbourn becomes different when James is newly hired by Mr. Bennett to become the household's footman. Sarah is convinced that James has a dark secret and she does everything to find out what it is, but is distracted by the dashing Ptolemy, who is the footman of the Bingley's.

Jo Baker didn't emulate Jane Austen's writing style - hers is more of a modern and straightforward of storytelling. The characters that were just in the background are given their own story and personalities. Longbourn also gave us more of P&P's supporting characters, such as Mr. Collins and Mary.

Baker vividly depicts the life of the lower class back in the regency era. Sarah and James' romance was a parallel to Lizzie and Darcy's love story so it became predictable.

I recommend this novel to those who love novels set in the Regency era - Jo Baker has done a good job of giving life to the characters that were originally in the background. Fans of Jane Austen & Downton Abbey should also give this novel a try :)

Title: Longbourn
Author: Jo Baker
Genre: Regency novel, romance
Published: October 2013
Publisher: Knopf
Rating: ♨♨♨♨