Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review of Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn by Jo Baker was a bit of (beautifully written) calm that fell into my lap at just the right moment.  It had been on my "Wish List" on Overdrive for a few months, and when it popped up as available, I was stressed and felt pretty glum.  When I listened as I washed dishes and walked home, it left me with an almost zen-like feeling of wellbeing.

Basic plot: In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs 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 dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own. (from Goodreads)

Memories from reading: Walking through Logan Circle in the damp cold air, along colored row houses and messed up sidewalks on the way back from lunch at a friend's house.

Favorites: I loved the smaller details, the intricacies in describing calm, consistent country life.  I thought that the comparisons, or juxtaposition, of the Bennett girls and Sarah and Polly were profound.  While the last image in the book was really lovely, I thought the end felt a little bit rushed to get the longview and see how the characters all ended up.

Teeth-gnashing: While listening to the audiobook, I sometimes had a hard time understanding who was who - or who the narrator was referring to, since there are so many "she"'s in the novel.  Also, I did not like Sarah's choice at the end, and didn't find it so realistic, smart, or rational.  To be fair, it's fiction.

Weapon of Choice: Audiobook to begin with, then raced through the regular hardcover.

Other titles by this author: The Undertow, The Telling, The Mermaid's Child

Have you read Longbourn or any of Jo Baker's books? What were your thoughts?

(If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.)


  1. Right now I'm not sure whether or not I actually bought this book. Either way, Longbourn sounds very interesting. It's too bad the ending felt rushed for you. Great review! What an original way of sorting your thoughts (:

    1. It was definitely one of my favorites. It's hard to get an ending right sometimes, but other than that I'd recommend it! Thanks for stopping by :)