The Book: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice below stairs – the story of romance, intrigue, and drama among the servants of the Bennet household.
“If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.”
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.
For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.
In Longbourn, Jo Baker gives respectful voice to those characters whom we have previously met only in passing on the stairs or through commentary and dialogue from Austen’s much loved Bennet family.
The Author: Jo Baker was born and grew up in Lancaster, and educated at Oxford and Belfast. Formerly a bookseller, she lives in Lancaster with her husband and two children, aged ten and five. Her own family were in service, a fact which lead Jo to considering the original idea for this novel. Longbourn is to be published internationally and is due to be made into a film produced by Focus Features.
This Blog: I have sneaked a look at the first few pages of the book and I am intrigued as I always have been by the life that goes on behind the scenes, downstairs if you will in big houses, and this book is certainly piquing my interest. Come back on Tuesday 13 August and find out what you did not know about life below in stairs in Jane Austen’s day.