If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.
For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.
©2013 Jo Baker (P)2013 Random House AudioGo
I like messing about in boats.
Jo Baker's imaginative retelling of Austen's Pride and Prejudice makes for compelling listening. The invisible servants that managed the comfortable lives of the Bennets, the Darcys and the Bingleys in the original novel are here the stars of the show. The thankless drudgery of their long days, their small hopes and pleasures and their grand disappointments and despairs are wonderfully told. Emma Fieldings reading is strong and nuanced without being obviously theatrical. This is a really great novel which I cannot recommend highly enough.
Yes . I'd like to travel through Sarah's life again .
All of it .
How she became each of the characters in turn , bringing the household to life .
"A lovely holiday read"
Yes, if the story sounds good.
Only to friends who are fans of Downton Abbey.
I was a bit disappointed in the end but still thought it a lovely book.
"A worthy addition to the genre"
How can you not relish this slice of life 'below stairs' in the world of 'Pride and Prejudice'? The events that loom so large in Elizabeth and Jane's world are but inconveniences and extra labour for the household staff (oh, the endless washing!). For the first hour of listening I was unconsciously wanting to hear more about the Bennets - as though that was the 'real' story - then I gradually became caught up in the lives of the staff as their characters unfolded, richly and well.
"Pride and prejudice downstairs"
A beautifully written and enchantingly narrated view of the life of Regency servants, the majority of Britain's population at the time of Austen's " Pride and Prejudice". Reading the original novel we tend to imagine ourselves as one of the Bennets , forgetting we may have belonged to Sarah and Polly's class.
One of the better Austen adaptations. Beautifully written, my only reservation being that it is rather a sad story, compared to Austen's usual cheerfulness. However, I must pile praise upon praise for the beautiful reading voice of Emma Fielding! I have been a monthly subscriber of Audible for a few years now, and this is by far the most lovely voice I have heard. I listen to these books to help me sleep, and despite finding some of the storyline a little more sad than I'd like, I still listened over and over to Longbourn because of the soft lilting voice, so intelligently and carefully putting across the exact nuances of meaning in every sentence.
Ms Fielding often crops up in radio plays and occasionally on TV. I keep an eye (and an ear) out for her now. A joy to listen to!
"New take on an old friend"
If like me, you know the story of P&P off by heart, you should read this new take on an old friend. Be warned though, it doesn't carry the comic element of the original but is written with a gritty realism that can make the reader uncomfortable at times.
I think it was her description of Mr Wickham that was most enlightening. In the original so much is uncertain in his character, how he could fool Elizabeth and appear both honourable and despicable at the same time, but this story leaves one with no illusions as to what he was really like.
The original book makes one feel for the poor Bennett sisters who are portrayed as being socially disadvantaged, but this book makes one realise how far further down the disadvantaged scale there is to slide.
This book is amazing. The characterisation is superb. Jo Baker is exemplary in building a picture of the world of Pride and Prejudice from the eyes of the servants. She is entirely credible in fleshing out what the actions of Austen's characters mean to those who have to wait on them, and in giving insights into the motivation of some of the characters, like Mr Bennet.
But the Bennets and the Darcys are merely incidental to this story of love and endurance.
This book is brilliant I can't recommend it enough :)
The characters are great and story keeps you :)
I love it!!
"Very enjoyable, and will please fans of P&P"
There is a pleasing satisfaction to this story with the background events in the household of the story Pride and Prejudice fans will know and recognise. But ultimately, it is a different story, and perfectly enjoyable as a stand-alone tale. The Prode and Prejudice story is merely a conceit, and not relevant at all. Perhaps it is a bit of a cheap trick?
Even so, I enjoyed the story.
"Fantastic embellishment of a much loved story"
Normally I would shy clear of a fan fiction novel but this is done with such elegant prose and heart felt characters that it leads you every step yearning to know how the people fare.
The narrator is superb.
"Clever below stairs take on Pride and Predjudice"
Not a mind blowing novel but highly enjoyable. Good narrator.
I suppose all the below stairs novels amount to much the same thing, but this one didn't get too fanciful.
A fresh observation of the Characters in Pride and Predjudice. Fun.
I liked the way it rounded up at the end without too much sentimentality.
"What a great twist!"
Very interesting read.
Obviously Pride and Prejudice, Pemberley by Emma Tennant and Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D.James. With such a well known story you think you know it all and its great to hear how different writers see the story and how their take on it goes. This sees the well known story through a completely new set of characters and I think we learn a lot about ones we thought we already knew!
The automatic choice is the storyteller, the maid who eyes we see the story unfold by but, HIll, or to give her her proper name is Mrs. Hill is revealed as quite a different character to which we had previously known her.
The hardships endured by downstairs servants is very well portrayed in this book and throughout you really can emphasis with almost all of them. The situations they endured to hold down a job are hard to understand in modern times but this what exactly happened.
Enjoyed this story all over again and will certainly listen to it again in the future. Emma Fielding gives a very sympathic slant to all the characters.
"A compelling story I couldn't stop listening!"
I love Pride and Prejudice but the story of the servants is so much more interesting.
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