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Longbourn by Jo Baker


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This retelling of Pride and Prejudice incorporates stories of the brutality of the Napoleonic Wars, a freed slave, the illegitimate offspring of a housekeeper and her employer, and the sexual grooming of a very young servant.

We found Longbourn much better than expected; it enhances Jane Austen's novel rather than changing or repeating it, and presents Mary and Mr Collins as figures of sympathy rather than fun. Baker clearly did a lot of research and goes into wonderful detail.

As in the original, every character makes the best of the situation they are in and carves a life for themselves. The love story between housemaid Sarah and mysterious stable-boy James echoes the relationship between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy.

One member of our group found the book took some time to get into, but that it was well worth the effort.

Longbourn is a delightful, entertaining and very clever novel.