longbourn summary

The orphan stands for the frightened waif in all of us, and here she’s the central character, the novel’s heroine. Twelfth Night at Longbourn (Given Good Principles) This is the 4th book in Maria Grace's series, Give Good Principles.

Secrets about James' past keep her from admitting her feelings, but when he disappears in the night without an explanation, she knows at last that she cares for him. “Longbourn” is delightfully audacious; after all, Jane Austen is a very tough act to follow. Of course, Longbourn must have had someone to stable the horses, sweep the rooms and change the sheets. Details in Jane Austen's novel – money earned through trade, a flogged soldier – become subplots of slavery and violence. Jo Baker, retelling Pride and Prejudice from the servants' perspective, has no interest in period prettiness. But to mention these classics is not to condemn as pastiche a work that’s both original and charming, even gripping, in its own right. The orphan is another beloved literary tradition. The defenseless child at the mercy of the world, unprotected by family or funds, is a resonant metaphor at any time.

There were rips to be mended and buttons to be sewn. (Probably all at the same time, as groups of women often do.) The news that a wealthy young gentleman named Charles Bingley has rented the manor of Netherfield Park causes a great stir in the nearby village of Longbourn, especially in the Bennet household. © 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Lydia, after all the trouble of stopping her elopement the first time, she ups and does it again, only this time nobody was there to stop her. She has also fashioned an absorbing and moving story about the servants at Longbourn: Sarah, the housemaid; Mr. and Mrs. Hill, who take charge of the stables and household; James, the new young footman; and little Polly, an orphan lucky enough to be spared the bleak fate that otherwise often awaited such girls (the streets, the poorhouse, a life of virtual slavery). There are other intrigues. But by her day such mundane and sordid details of daily life weren’t spoken of in polite novels. But if Charlotte Brontë had taken up the challenge of a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice,” she might very well have hit upon the sort of broader, more sympathetic point of view Jo Baker has derived from the servants’ quarters. Emotions seethe downstairs as familiar events unfold upstairs, notably the arrival of the delightful (and marriageable) Mr. Bingley.

While the main plot of the well known Austen novel takes place in the background, the reader follows Sarah and her companions below stairs: the cook and housekeeper, Mrs. Hill; Mr. Hill; Poly, the second maid; and James, the mysterious newcomer and odd job man recently hired by Mr. Bennet. Of course, Longbourn is more than a catalogue of Regency cleaning tips. Sarah, the predictably bookish and feisty housemaid, has two suitors to choose from: Bingley's exotic ex-slave manservant and a mysterious footman. However, as time goes on, and the more she learns, Sarah begins to develop feelings for the mysterious ex-soldier. We cling to them in hopes that some of the qualities of Austen or Mitchell or Dickens can be recaptured, restoring our sense of delight, maintaining the mysterious bond that returns us to Mrs. Bennet declaring that “Netherfield Park is let at last” or Scarlett O’Hara deciding to wait until tomorrow to think about her problems. Servants were servants. Summary Plot Overview Summary Plot Overview.


“Pride and Prejudice” has been read and reread by enchanted readers since its publication in 1813. Sarah, a housemaid at the Bennet family home, works her fingers to the bone every day attending to the whims of Elizabeth, Jane, and their three sisters. The parallels between the two are not subtle, but they illuminate both Austen's novel and the precarious and circumscribed lives of 19th-century servants. She has heard a rumor that Darcy and Elizabeth are or are about to be engaged and is determined to stop any romance that may exist between them. Most of the action is seen through Sarah’s eyes as she grows into self-­awareness and proves to have some of Jane Eyre’s spunky resilience. If she could find it, and it was writ in English, she would borrow Heraclitus from the library.”.

Baker includes enough of the plot of Pride and Prejudice so that an Austen novice will not get lost, and an Austen lover has the satisfaction of matching the novels chapter for chapter. Beloved books like “Pride and Prejudice” or “Gone With the Wind,” or books left unfinished like “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” have always prompted efforts to imagine a continuing life for their characters. Longbourn cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Yet Austen’s great successor, Charlotte Brontë, was baffled by all this admiration. Poor Kitty. Sun 11 Aug 2013 14.30 BST Longbourn by Jo Baker – review Jo Baker's retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants' perspective will please Austen fans and novices …
Wickham, the sly villain of “Pride and Prejudice,” is even more vile here, planning to seduce the little scullery maid, Polly, even as he’s paying court to the feckless Lydia. Neither a sequel nor a disappointment, it’s an affecting look at the world of “Pride and Prejudice,” but from another point of view — the servants’ hall, where other lives are simultaneously lived, with very different concerns and dramas. Summary. As we know from Austen’s masterpiece, the Bennet family’s respectable but rundown estate at Longbourn is under threat, destined to pass out of the family, since Mr. Bennet has no sons.

Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary are all in Derbyshire since their weddings. The Bennets have five unmarried daughters—from oldest to youngest, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia—and Mrs. Bennet is desperate to see … Alas, with few exceptions, these efforts rarely satisfy.

Lady Catherine De Bourgh unexpectedly drops by Longbourn one day to talk to Elizabeth. Baker shares some of Brontë’s qualities — a power of description, a feeling for the natural world, a regard for emotional turbulence — and she shows a comfort with the past that allows her to imagine it in a vivid way. Chamber pots were mentioned in the work of Shakespeare and Chaucer, and in the 18th-century novels Austen had certainly read.

“Pride and Prejudice” has been read and reread by enchanted readers since its publication in 1813. Throughout the book, Sarah grows increasingly interested in James' past, and seeks to discover more about him.

She is convinced that he's a baden, and must learn the truth in order to protect her fellow servants, and to save the reputation of the household. There were no indoor toilets, so there had to be chamber pots and someone to empty them into the “necessary,” and it certainly wasn’t the Bennets.

“Longbourn” is delightfully audacious; after all, Jane Austen is a very tough act to follow. There's dirty laundry and chilblains on the first page of Longbourn, sweat and blood on the second. Jo Baker Booklist Jo Baker Message Board. Mainly, though, there's housework: the endless, repetitive tasks necessary to the functioning of the Bennet household. Unlike the downtrodden victims in “Les Misérables,” the Longbourn servants are relatively content with — or at least resigned to — their lot. Like Polly, Sarah, the housemaid, is a foundling, taken in at Longbourn and fostered by Mrs. Hill. Available for everyone, funded by readers. Longbourn Book Summary and Study Guide. Remember how indignant Mrs. Bennet was when Mr. Collins wondered which of the girls had cooked the excellent dinner? With large imaginative sympathy and a detailed knowledge of early-19th-century housekeeping, Baker gives us a sobering look at the underside — or the practical side — of daily life circa 1812, where in a bourgeois household, however hard up, a staff of people, knowing their place, worked an 18-hour day, every day, to achieve for their employers even the minimum of comfort.

Click on a plot link to find similar books. And then there was the washing out of perspiration stains and the bleaching of petticoats dragged in the mud. Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Longbourn; As a Jane Austen spin off set from a servant's point of view, Longbourn attempts to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice from a completely new angle. The heir, Mr. Collins, would be likely to bring in his own people and turn out the present staff. All rights reserved. Baker adds some new characters to the Austen pantheon, with considerable success. But their lives are intertwined in ways one wouldn’t have learned from reading Austen, where servants are barely mentioned. If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them. While Elizabeth and Darcy flirt upstairs, the servants are busy with their own romance. In Baker’s account, the Bennets are employers more considerate than many — Elizabeth gives the housemaid, Sarah, one of her dresses — but social distances are thoughtlessly taken for granted. At first, Sarah denies her attraction to James, and focuses her interest rather on a freed African, Ptolemy, who is a servant of Mr. Bingley's. For some time, after Elizabeth's marriage, Sarah lives at Pemberley as a servant in the Darcy household. Baker also reminds us that — of course — someone must have been up very early in the morning to lay the fires for the Bennets and must have spent all day cooking their meals and must have waited outside in the cold with the coach and horses till the girls emerged from a party. She “assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen.” However constrained their financial situation, the Bennets were in the upper middle class, like Austen herself, a parson’s daughter, two of whose brothers were admirals.

Downstairs, the servants are worried too.

If part of Baker’s inspiration could have come from Charlotte Brontë, there’s also an aside straight out of “Les Misérables.” Thanks to James, the footman, we learn something of the conditions encountered by young boys set adrift in the world, and the exploitative realities of army life and domestic service. Naturally, Austen knew about these particulars of daily life, as did George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, not just from books. Longbourn Jo Baker, 2013 Knopf Doubleday 352 pp.

Jane Bennet appears to Sarah "as sweet, soothing and undemanding as a baked milk-pudding"; travelling for the first time on top of a carriage, Sarah realises that speed is "the ability to compress the world into folds and slip through them like a needle". Just when Elizabeth announces that she is expecting her first baby, Sarah decides to leave her position in order to search for James and her own happy ending.

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