I cap off my month of Pride and Prejudice with Jo Baker’s Longbourn. I had read several favorable CBR reviews already, and I was eager to see what the fuss was all about. Can I just say, I would like to see this as a PBS special over Death Comes to Pemberley? Because I just did. If you *have* to make a fanfic, do it right: give us something new.
We all know the plot to Pride and Prejudice. But we often don’t think about the comfortable lives built on the backs of servants, or the fact that there was an invisible class partitioned behind the parlor, forced to make others’ lives their own. Jo Baker makes the servant class the focus of Longbourn, and, in so doing, brings a different story to light. It’s not a rehash of Pride and Prejudice: it’s the untold story.
Sarah is the housemaid at Longbourn, working with Mr. and Mrs. Hill and a young girl named Polly. Just as Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy enter town to disrupt the peaceful lives of the Bennet women, a young man named James enters the servants’ hall and brings with him an array of untold secrets.
I felt that Ms. Baker respectfully engaged with her subject material while challenging the untold perspectives inherent in the novel. I enjoyed it greatly, and it didn’t try so hard to emulate Austen’s stylistic prose that it ended up sounding pedantic. It was a great example of bringing new life to a popular story by making something new. I really enjoyed it, and if you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, I bet you will too.