Longbourn tells us the story of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of the Longbourn staff and, because they aren’t always present in the events that take place in Austen’s book, the narrative ends up following the lives of these secondary characters as they navigate through P&P’s events, which makes the story very different. I particularly liked this difference and was very interested in knowing how the lives of Sarah, Polly, Mrs. Hill and James would progress.
The initial chapters are told from the point of view of a housemaid called Sarah who was a character I enjoyed getting to know. I felt compelled to read these initial chapters not only because I did like Sarah and her attitude towards her life, but also because I found it very interesting to know what the life of a housemaid would be like. Instead of balls and dances, the reader is faced with the hardship of daily chores that need to be completed so the ladies of the house may go to the glamorous balls. I loved how real and forthright the descriptions of these chores were, and I admire the author for giving this story a darker tone that was inevitable considering the POV. This darker side of the book was probably what I enjoyed the most because it is impossible to embellish the lives of the hands in the 1800’s, and the author didn’t attempt to do it, she kept the book real as it should be.
I also enjoyed the back story of Mrs. Hill and would have loved to read more about her younger years. Her character and her story are simultaneously sad and powerful and were my second favourite aspect of the book. On the other hand, I truly disliked Mr. Bennet’s character who was unnecessarily cold and distant, and even if I did like James, and was interested in some of the mystery his character brought to the story, when the book moves along to explain his journey, I lost some of the interest. I believe the story would gain if it followed only one narrative instead of jumping into another POV set in a different country and timing.
I was also very disappointed with the progression of Sarah’s character. If in the beginning I was inspired with her attitude, in the middle of the story I wasd I believe readers who usually read JAFF books will not appreciate it as much. Nevertheless, Longbourn is a courageous story that demonstrates not all were balls and bonnets in regency times and should be praised for that.
Jane Bennet’s Level
Emma Fielding’s narration was pleasant to hear, and I believe she was able to give the book the tone the author intended to give, however, nothing in particular stood out in her narration. I listened to some chapters of the book and read others but didn’t feel any difference when picking up the paperback, so I do recommend the audio version of the book.
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