Monday, June 8, 2015

Longbourn by Jo Baker

I'd long known about Longbourn, and I'm glad it finally became available on audiobook from my library. After my disappointment with Death Comes to Pemberley, it was time for a good Pride & Prejudice experience. Also,  I was concurrently reading Darcy's Story which is a somewhat enjoyable but much less novel in approach.

No surprise, the "downstairs" aspect of Longbourn appealed to me, partially because of my infatuation with Downton Abbey. I actually found the beginning of the book made me cringe because of all the talking about the tiredness and hard work, scrubbing, soaking, bleaching, cleaning... I felt tired and sore and my hands felt dry just hearing about it.

Some of my partiality for the book also comes from the fact that it's a great alternative way to encounter P&P without the same story being the focus. If you already love and know the characters of P&P, then it's just icing on the cake to encounter them in another story.

I do wonder what it's like to read the book without knowing what's happening with the Bennet family. Do they matter at all to you, or do you wish those pesky side characters would stop slowing down Sarah's story? Is it confusing? Is Lizzie as important as Jane? I'd imagine that you think much better of Mrs. Bennet than Mr. Bennet in this story. I find that drastically different than P&P, where you like Mr. B so much more than Mrs.B (on face value, at least). It was actually hard to read the bad sides of him.
My biggest frustration of the book is a spoiler, so click the jump to read on. 
I really didn't like how the story concluded. Sarah running off after James felt foolhardy and unlikely. I can't imagine leaving such a prime position at Pemberley--especially not after the master and mistress asked you to stay, and for good reason, and especially not when you had no other job lined up and you were running far away after a drifter. As much as I liked Sarah and James, I would have been much more content with the ending if Sarah had stayed at Pemberley, or, actually, if she had married Ptolemy. Sure he was rakish and ultimately unmotivated, but that would have been a more legitimate ending to me.

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