The book I've chosen to talk about that I read this month is Longbourn by Jo Baker. You may recognize this book as the April selection for the ABM book club, which is where I first heard of it too. I immediately wanted to read it after seeing it there and further learning that it was set in the Pride and Prejudice "universe," but instead followed the storyline of the Bennet families servants. Yes please.
I read every single Jane Austin book as a teenager and identified strongly with Elizabeth (from Pride and Prejudice), especially, at the time. I even secretly wanted to live back in late eighteenth century Britain — except not, because holy cow: class devisions, servitude/slavery, lack of women's rights= zero fun. But boy, did it all seem romantic.
I immediately got into this story; Jo Baker does a remarkable job of mimicking Jane Austin's writing style while still offering a unique voice that feels more modern. She also intertwines little snippets of the Pride and Prejudice storyline, so you are always aware of the timing and context of things. I will say, this was my absolutely favorite aspect of the book; seeing the whole series of events from a different perspective — arguably a more grounded and realistic perspective — gave a entirely new light to the original love story. As a teenager, I was infatuated with The Mr. Darcy but now I'm more like "Eh" about the whole thing, haha. Seeing all of the sister's and their drama from Sarah (primarily), Polly, and Mrs. Hill's point of view was changing as well.
My one concern going into this book was that the storyline would feel limited, just based on the precept that this was creating a story within an existing classic. It seemed to me, at the time, that there would be little room for character development and plot. I was wrong, definitely. I feel in love with all the characters. My favorite part was the third section where James' real parents were revealed and we got a glimpse into his past.
Have you read Longbourn? Did you enjoy it as much as Pride and Prejudice?
See previous 1 Book a Month selections here:
2. February, March, April
Do you have any suggestions for what I should read next???