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 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.
This book has been touted as a “Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey” book. Initially, that’s what drew me to the book. I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, and have read several related books, (although I refuse to read anything that mixes Elizabeth Bennet and zombies). This one is the story of the staff at Longbourn which parallels the story of Pride & Prejudice. The book’s style is nothing like Austen’s. It’s much more raw and less proper then the original. The story of the Bennets is largely in the background, so if you are looking for extra tidbits or insight into the original story, this is not the place to look. However, on it’s own it’s a nice story centered around two of the servants — Sarah & James. The added “comfort” of the familiar story of the Bennet sisters always right at the background makes it feel like it’s already a good friend.
Would I recommend this to a fellow book lover? Absolutely
Would I recommend this to teens/children? Not so much. It deals with topics such as illegitimate children and hints at some adult themes such as homosexuality.
4 of 5 stars.