On My Bookshelf: Longbourn


When it comes to reading, I’m a sucker for anything related to Pride and Prejudice or love stories set in England. Like clockwork, I find myself picking up something that falls into at least one of those two categories every few months.

My most recent read, Longbourn by Jo Baker, fit the bill in both areas. It takes place at Longbourn, home to the Bennett family, but is told strictly from the downstairs staff’s point of view. You catch glimpses of characters from Pride and Prejudice, like Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Bingley, but the story doesn’t revolve around them.

Longbourn paints a picture of what it would be like working in service. Unlike life for the Bennett girls, days at the manor are hard, and the tasks are grueling.

The thing that struck me the most was realizing that for these people life orbits around this other family. With little free time and money, they rarely experience the world outside of the manor’s grounds. For the main character, Sarah, this aspect is the hardest.

Likeable and fallible, Sarah is a complex main character. The primary love story centers revolves around her, and it is beautiful and nuanced. Jo Baker even packs in a few twists and turns to keep things interesting.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was lovely to pull back the curtain on a time that is so different from ours. That being said, there is a negative side effect. From now on, I will probably be a little more critical of the Bennett sisters the next time I watch Pride and Prejudice.


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