Last night I finished Jo Baker's intensely readable and richly detailed novel Longbourn. In it, Baker elegantly refocuses the lens of Austen's Pride and Prejudice from the Bennet sisters to the plight of their maid, Sarah, and the inner workings of Longbourn. Behind the scenes at Longbourn there are are clothes to be scrubbed and mended, tea to be served, ladies to be dressed and coiffed, and chamber pots to be carried out and emptied.
I hesitated before cracking open this book, I'll admit. Too often re-imaginings of classics fall sadly short. Either the writing is horribly off, or the plot veers to sickly sweet romance or zombies. Longbourn exceeded my expectations. While honoring Austen and the world she created at Longbourn, Baker successfully airs the day-to-day drudgery and maintenance of that world without the original story ever becoming tarnished. Instead, we are privy to secrets, conversations, and facets of the Bennet household that enrich the story and amuse the reader at every turn.
All in all a wonderful read...
NPR Q&A with Jo Baker