Review for Longbourn by Jo Baker!
Quick View Review
Characters: **** (3.5/5)
Plot: ***** (4.5/5)
Writing Quality: ***** (5/5)
Amazon Rating: **** (4/5)
We’re back at Longbourn, fellow Pride and Prejudice fans! In this backstory novel, the servants, who in Pride and Prejudice made only fleeting appearances, become the main characters. We learn about their stories, and specifically focus on Sarah, a beautiful intelligent housemaid who would have been extremely successful if only she had money like the Bennets. While Elizabeth and her sisters are worried about balls and husbands, Sarah is struggling to stick to the boundaries of her class, her imagination running wild with what she could do with love and a few pounds. That’s when James, the new footman arrives, and he might just give Sarah the changes she’s been craving.
CALLING ALL PRIDE AND PREJUDICE FANS. Although the swoon-worthy Mr. Darcy only makes a few and VERY disappointing appearances (it’s clear that SOMEHOW, Jo Baker was not a Fitzwilliam fan =0), Baker did an incredible job of weaving the Austen novel into a world that seemed as if it was completely different.
Sarah was an intriguing character who reminded me a lot of Jane Eyre (but don’t worry, her story isn’t nearly as monotonous): she was a powerful girl who pushed the boundaries of her social class while “growing up” and, inevitably, falling in love. For some reason, though, I liked Sarah A LOT more than I liked Jane; it may have been her perky and slightly sarcastic personality that I could relate to, but I think it was also because Sarah never hesitated to think of others first and would do ANYTHING for those she loved.
I have to say, I was pretty disappointed by James. I didn’t feel like the author created a very good image of him, because somehow I got one that was... not entirely pleasant. I had a hard time connecting with him at all, and I felt like the romance between him and Sarah was completely rushed and just came out of the blue. No first impressions or slow realizations… Instead, the first time we got James’s perspective, he confessed his love without any real explanation, and this sudden change of heart appeared similarly in Sarah’s view.
Although the perspectives and certain minor points were sometimes confusing, the plot was outstanding. The big twist was perfectly crafted and amazingly unpredictable (and I’m usually pretty good at seeing the future when it comes to twists); I think my jaw dropped about 10 million times and I must have reread that chapter maybe 5 times to make sure I wasn’t misreading the words in front of me. Baker completely changed my view of Mr. Bennet (which I’m not quite sure I’m happy about…), but at the same time, it was a realization similar to the one Harper Lee created in Go Set A Watchman to make Atticus seem human. (And that’s all, folks, because I’m really struggling not to include spoilers here.) Other than the twist, which ended up consuming half of the novel with very intriguing backstories, I felt like the plot was well developed albeit being jumpy from time to time. But my applause goes to Baker for the well-explained yet completely unpredictable twist, because you’d be surprised at the number of books I’ve read that possess twists that make absolutely no sense (*cough* We Were Liars *cough* Bone Gap… Whoops).
The writing quality: perfection. This book took me a while to get through just because Baker, somehow, exactly recreated Austen’s descriptive yet flawlessly concise writing style that captivated me in Pride & Prejudice, and, subsequently, captivated me here. Although I did get slightly frustrated with the paragraphs-long descriptions sometimes, the imagery created a vivid picture of Longbourn and most of the characters that I will forever cherish whenever I need to be reminded of that beautiful world.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to dive right back into the world of Pride & Prejudice and extend my stay at Longbourn just a couple more days by learning about some minor characters. Although the supposed-to-be heartthrob James was disappointing to me, I loved all the other characters (I didn’t even get to Mrs. Hill and Polly), especially Sarah. The plot was flawless with a plot twist you won’t see coming, and the writing style perfectly reflects the unreplicable and beautiful works of Jane Austen; so although this book could never quite match up to Pride & Prejudice, I think it’s the closest anyone will ever get. If you’re a Pride & Prejudice fanatic like I am and haven’t read this novel yet, I suggest you head to the nearest book store RIGHT NOW, because you NEED this book in your life.
Make sure to come back next Wednesday for a new review!