Sunday, October 06, 2013

2013 book 263

Jo Baker's Longbourn
There have been a lot of Pride and Prejudice sequels/spinoffs/whatevers written over the years, and most of them are terrible. So I was intrigued by this more nontraditional take on the story, about the servants at Longbourn, who only appear briefly in the book. It's primarily told from the perspective of Sarah, one of the two housemaids, but there's also quite a bit involving Mrs. Hill, the housekeeper/cook, as well as a mysterious new footman. And luckily, they're all really well-drawn characters, and their stories flow really well as they weave in and out of the more famous Bennets' doings. It's also pretty historically accurate--there's a fair amount about the Napoleonic wars, and the household chores are described in great detail (which I mean in a positive way--though there is perhaps too much about washing the dirty laundry--that symbolism might be a bit on the nose). About 3/4ths of the way through, there's a lengthy interlude flashing back to the footman's past, which almost feels like an entirely different book, and I was eager to get back to Longbourn and Sarah. But on the whole, I thought this was really well-done, and perfect for fans of historical fiction and Austen fans. MUCH better than the usual drivel trading on Pride and Prejudice. A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on Tuesday.

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