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Review – Longbourn

Posted in Book Blogger


by Jo Baker

Genres: Historical Fiction, Regency Fiction
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Pages: 354
Purchase from: Amazon
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

While Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters fuss over balls and husbands, Sarah, their orphaned housemaid, is beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When a new footman arrives at Longbourn under mysterious circumstances, the carefully choreographed world she has known all her life threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended. Mentioned only fleetingly in Jane Austen’s classic, here Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Regency England and, in doing so, uncovers the real world of the novel that has captivated readers’ hearts around the world for generations.


I read Longbourn once before, back when it was first released. With fond, though sparse memories of it, when I had no idea what to read, I decided to give it another go. It took me 2 months to finish.

While, according to Amazon, only 354 pages long, at times it seemed interminable in its misery and solemnity. I came within a hair’s breadth of setting it aside without finishing.

However, I forced myself through it in the last week of read time, and it seemed to pick up a bit. What I’d forgotten about were the explicit horrors of James’ time at war and the full, disgusting proclivities of Wickham.

This is another book that has minimal — virtual none, really, — payoff for the misery of the journey. James, Sarah, and Polly eventually get happy/satisfactory endings, but we get only the briefest mention of them.

As a reader, I feel robbed of the joy a happy ending should bring. Perhaps because, in Longbourn, it’s not so much a happy ending as a final scene that tells you things turn out OK. At the very least, Ms. Baker could have given us Mrs. Hill’s reunion with James and Sarah.

About the Author

Jo Baker is the author of six novels, most recently Longbourn and A Country Road, A Tree. She has also written for BBC Radio 4, and her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. She lives in Lancaster, England, with her husband, the playwright and screenwriter Daragh Carville, and their two children.

Author links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

NOTE: This review is based on an eBook I purchased from Barnes and Noble in November 2013.

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