Jo Baker’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective will please Austen fans and novices alikeThere’s dirty laundry and chilblains on the first page of Longbourn, sweat and blood on the second. Jo Baker, retelling Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective, has no interest in period prettiness. Details in Jane Austen’s novel – money earned through trade, a flogged soldier – become subplots of slavery and violence. Mainly, though, there’s housework: the endless, repetitive tasks necessary to the functioning of the Bennet household.Of course, Longbourn is more than a catalogue of Regency cleaning tips. While Elizabeth and Darcy flirt upstairs, the servants are busy with their own romance. Sarah, the predictably bookish and feisty housemaid, has two suitors to choose from: Bingley’s exotic ex-slave manservant and a mysterious footman.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. 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. Baker favours excess over subtlety in her descriptions as well as her plotting, …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books