Longbourn by Jo Baker

longbournIf you’re looking for something to tide you over while you wait for the start of Season 4 of Downton Abbey,  may I suggest reading or listening to Longbourn  by Jo Baker.  The novel is the story of servants  who live “across the pond”  with another famous family, the Bennets of Pride and Prejudice fame.  The story is set in at the turn of the 19th century and follows along with the timeline of Austen’s book  but it is  the story  of the servants that takes center stage– Sarah, the  maid who has been with the family since she was a young child; Mr. & Mrs. Hill, the elderly butler and his head housekeeper wife,  and little Polly who assists as much as a young child can.  A love triangle ensues as James Smith, a mysterious footman is hired by the family while Sarah has eyes for Mr. Bingely’s  footman,   the worldly and exotic Ptolemy . In the midst of this story, we learn  more about the the daily drudgery of the chores and life at the Bennet household.  The storyline from Pride and Prejudice does come into play as we meet the main characters and see the servant’s impressions of them.  Although some reviews say it didn’t tie in enough with Austen’s book,   I was happy with the way the two stories meshed.

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