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Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Review and Preview: Longbourn by Jo Barker

I'm taking part in the blog tour for the up and coming book Longbourn by Jo Barker which retells the classic Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice from the servants' point of view.
I was so excited when I received a copy of the limited first edition proof of Longbourn to review, which is due to hit book stores this month and as 2013 marks the bicentennial anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this book has come out at the perfect time. 
I haven't been caught up in Jane Austen series much before so feel I could read this novel with a fresh perspective and not compare to Jane Austen's books and movies too much. I don't recall watching the Pride and Prejudice movie but know the storyline is about Jane Austen and her 4 sisters who as it was in those days want to find a man to fall in love with and marry and start a life together.
Longbourn is based in England in the 1700s and is the story told by the servants - Mr and Mrs Hill, teenage Sarah, young Polly and a new man servant James who work for the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice. Oh yes how the tables turn in this book, reading about the main characters from the servants view is a totally different perspective of life in those times and just how much work goes on behind the scenes for the Bennet family to live the life they do and be fed and clothed with such grace and attention.
Right from the first few pages I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing style described everything in so much detail you could virtually feel the chilblains on young Sarah's fingers as she was doing the laundry. I felt the fear Mrs Hill had about losing her job with the Bennets, the coldness poor old Mr Hill felt on the horse and carriage riding the Bennets around in the rain, the tiredness of young Polly working from such a young age and the excitement felt by Sarah as she discovers men for the first time.
This book is split into 2 chapters - Chapter 1 was mainly about Sarah and her hopes and dreams for her life. Chapter 2 was more about Mr and Mrs Hill and James and really started to tell you more about the Bennet family and the story started to get really interesting and intriguing. Even back then there were scandalous things going on, they just did a much better job at covering it up!
This character map gives a pretty good idea of the characters in the book and how they fit into the story line, from the Bennets to the servants. Trust me you'll need this map to refer to to see how everyone is connected when the story takes a turn in Chapter 2!
I recommend this book to anyone that enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen fans and romantics.
I give this book 4 stars
Jarrah Jungle's Star Rating:
1 Bad - I'd rather eat brussel sprouts topped with anchovies than read this again
2 Not Good - I'd rather watch re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read
Longbourn can be purchased from Random House Australia here
Sharing my book review on Random House here and Good Reads here
Disclosure: Random House and NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote their product. As part of this promotion I was given this book published by Doubleday to review. I have not received any payment or compensation for this review. I have not been told what to say about this product, I am free to form my own opinion and share them in my own words. All opinions are my own.
[Images via Random House]
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  1. That sounds really interesting!
    I must confess: while I enjoy watching Jane Austen films, I've never really been able to get into her writing. Maybe I should try again, but . . . there's only so much time I can spend reading about women gossiping about each other over tea. The closest I got to reading authentic Austen was "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," which, for all its bizarreness, actually contains 70% of the original text.
    This sounds like it could be a really interesting and fun ride, though. The lives of English lords, ladies, and almost-lords and ladies always seems more intriguing from the servants' perspectives.
    Thanks for the review and recommendation!

    1. I hear you, thats why Iv never gotten into the Jane Austen stories either. But you definately dont need to know about them to enjoy this book it was about how it was in the old days, the war, and love stories, but from a down to earth believeable way as it was from the servants perspective, not how it was for the rich families who spent their days playing piano and giggling :)

  2. How utterly clever!! This would make a great gift as well for all those Jane Austen Julie's out there :)

    1. I was thinking about giving mine away to a Jane Austen fan but I dont think I can part with it :)

  3. Ohhhhhh...I would LOVE this book. I love the family tree also.

    THANKS for sharing. I have to READ this book.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved August Edition. I am in the list as #36. My book entry is below.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry


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