If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.
For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.
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Inspired...Baker has written an intoxicating love story but, also like Austen, the pleasure of her novel lies in its wit and fierce intelligence. Longbourn is a profound exploration of injustice, of poverty and dependence, of loyalty...a novel that contrives both to provoke the intellect and, ultimately, to stop the heart - Guardian
ONES TO WATCH Just enough Darcy to delight, as well as being a fascinating insight into the harsh working conditions of life in a grand house 200 years ago - Good Housekeeping
Debut novelist Jo Baker takes the reader on a journey back to a version of Regency England that is as much about poverty and war as social comedy and romance - Metro
This clever glimpse of Austen’s universe clouded by washday steam is so compelling it leaves you wanting to read the next chapter in the lives below stairs - Daily Express
GREAT READS: Pride and Prejudice reimagined as a mysterious manservant stirs up passions in the Bennet household both upstairs and down - Woman and Home
Captivating and delicious. A brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the parlours of Pride and Prejudice - Maggie Shipstead, author of SEATING ARRANGEMENTS
A novelist with a gift for intimate and atmospheric storytelling - Financial Times
Superb... The lightest of touches by a highly accomplished young writer - Mail on Sunday
Sequels and prequels rarely add to the original, but Baker’s simple yet inspired reimagining does. It has best-seller stamped all over it - Kirkus
Splendid...Baker’s imaginative leaps are stunningly well done both historically (the scenes set at the siege of Corunna are terrific) and emotionally...What a great film it will make (the rights sold early); the well-loved novel shaken up and given the grit which Jane Austen could never include. - Evening Standard
A must-read for fans of Jane Austen, this literary tribute also stands on its own as a captivating love story - Publisher's Weekly
An Austen lover has the satisfaction of matching the novels chapter for chapter. Lovely. - Observer
Longbourn is a fantastic feat of imagination, unflinching in its portrayal of war and the limitations of life for a servant – a novel you will want to shelve with the original classics you plan to read again and again. - Psychologies
To twist something so familiar into something quite fresh is impressive…Baker takes ownership of this world without mimicking Austen’s style, asserting instead her own distinctive, authentic voice. Longbourn is not just nicely packaged fan fiction, or an Austenian Downton Abbey; it’s an engrossing tale we neither know nor expect. - Daily Telegraph
What bravery to take Pride And Prejudice as the springboard for a new novel! Bravery or, in the wrong hands, foolishness. However, in relating Jane Austen’s best-loved tale from the perspective of the Bennet family’s servants, Jo Baker takes a fresh angle on a story that millions of diehard fans know inside out. - Sunday Express
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About the Author
Jo Baker was educated at Oxford and The Queen's University, Belfast. She lives in Lancaster with her husband, the playwright Daragh Carville, and their two children. Longbourn is due to be made into a film, produced by Focus Features.