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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about Longbourn

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful storytelling

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.

4 people found this helpful

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One of my favourite stories, tenderly and gently narrated

I’ve always treasured this book, with it’s calm and steady pace, and insight into other times. Emma Fielding narrates the story with the sensitivity it deserves. Perfect listen for troubled times.

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Fabulous alternate story of life at Longbourn

Told with a touch of humour. Very enjoyable to listen too and interesting perspectives of life at the time

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-01-2020

Sensitive, raw and convincing

A beautiful, tender yet raw and at times harrowing story so believable with characters who seem so real. Historical detail, imagery and minute observations create a complete world. An entirely different perspective on Pride and Prejudice which really makes one reflect on the harsh contrast between servants and the families they serve and how very much greater insecurities were for the working class. I’m going to keep re-visiting this book. The relationships between the characters were wonderful - I can’t only listen once! Emma Fielding is the perfect narrator too. Thank you.

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  • G.Keyzer
  • 15-02-2015

Wonderful !!

Would you listen to Longbourn again? Why?

Yes . I'd like to travel through Sarah's life again .

What was one of the most memorable moments of Longbourn?

All of it .

What about Emma Fielding’s performance did you like?

How she became each of the characters in turn , bringing the household to life .

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  • Charlene
  • 09-02-2014

A lovely holiday read

Would you try another book from Jo Baker and/or Emma Fielding?

Yes, if the story sounds good.

Would you recommend Longbourn to your friends? Why or why not?

Only to friends who are fans of Downton Abbey.

Which character – as performed by Emma Fielding – was your favorite?

Sarah.

Was Longbourn worth the listening time?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

I was a bit disappointed in the end but still thought it a lovely book.

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  • Lisa
  • 08-09-2013

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.

Recommended.

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  • Randal
  • 18-05-2017

Fabulous reader - Emma Fielding

The story is very gentle. If you're thinking that this will sparkle with the same kind of wit that underpins Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's meanderings around Hamlet, then this isn't the book you're looking for, but it's a solid story nevertheless. Good characters and a satisfactory ending. Pride and Prejudice, however is irrelevant. The story could be set anywhere in Regency England because the Bennets, Darcy and Bingley are hardly on the page. It's full of excellent historical detail, however, and is a good story in itself. What really makes this is Emma Fielding's excellent reading. It's perfect for the period and for the story. I loved it.

19 people found this helpful

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  • holly bird
  • 09-07-2014

Clever below stairs take on Pride and Predjudice

Where does Longbourn rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Not a mind blowing novel but highly enjoyable. Good narrator.

What other book might you compare Longbourn to, and why?

I suppose all the below stairs novels amount to much the same thing, but this one didn't get too fanciful.

What does Emma Fielding bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A fresh observation of the Characters in Pride and Predjudice. Fun.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No!

Any additional comments?

I liked the way it rounded up at the end without too much sentimentality.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Liz
  • 08-05-2018

Very enjoyable

I've just been through a little phase of reading 'new' pride and prejudice books. This and PD James Death comes to Pemberly (I read the book, not the audio of that). They expand the world of a favourite book and add much pleasure. both are excellent. Longbourn is written from the point of view of the servants and as such the high drama of the house is more muted below, their concerns are more directed to what happened when Mr Collins comes into the house (a lovely and fascinating perspective). The story develops towards the end more away from the main plot and is finished a little abruptly, as though the author just wanted to wrap the story up quickly. But apart from that the rest of the book is well told, well characterised and a real joy

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-10-2017

Great

I loved it ! It is well written, beautifully read, and I cared deeply about the characters.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-06-2014

What a great twist!

If you could sum up Longbourn in three words, what would they be?

Very interesting read.

What other book might you compare Longbourn to, and why?

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!

Which character – as performed by Emma Fielding – was your favourite?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Catherine
  • 05-05-2014

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • julia
  • 21-02-2014

New take on an old friend

What made the experience of listening to Longbourn the most enjoyable?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Janet
  • 13-08-2014

Wonderful voice!

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!

11 people found this helpful

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  • Rooty tooty
  • 12-01-2015

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Linjeakel
  • 24-05-2019

Disappointing

First let me say that the narrator is excellent and I will be looking for more books read by her, but the story itself I'm finding a little lacklustre. It's a great idea, to see the lives of the Bennets from the perspective of their servants and the author clearly knows her stuff with regard to period detail and the social mores of the time. But it's incredibly slow going and, without Jane Austen's wit and wry observations to enliven it, frankly tedious. I'm about six hours in and nothing has really happened. I wouldn't normally review a book I haven't finished but I don't think I can face another six or seven hours listening to it to find out what, if anything, happens in the end. A bit of a disappointment.

1 person found this helpful

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