Monday, June 15, 2015

I'm Back! Library Ramblings and Longbourn Book Review

I'm back gentle readers!

After finishing the semester and starting a summer job, I've been a little busy and honestly, I'm enjoying the opportunity to be lazy again. It's been eight months since I haven't had to worry about how much homework I have for tomorrow.

One of my first stops after summer began was the local library, one of my favorite places and home to many cherished memories. My mom took my siblings and I on weekly trips to the library when we were younger, and we were only limited by the amount of books we could carry.

I stopped going to the library in high school, then rediscovered it again when I was a sophomore in college. Being a broke English major made the library the obvious place for me to get my insatiable fill of books without having to pay a dime. Whoever created the idea of a free public lending library, God bless you.

So, in my latest excursion to the library, I found a copy of Jo Baker's Longbourn, a Pride and Prejudice variation that came out a couple of years ago that I never got the chance to read. It was rather popular, and had an interesting premise of focusing on the servants who serve the Bennet family at the titular family house, instead of the relationship between Lizzy and Darcy, like every other fan fiction.

I wanted to like this book, and I really did enjoy it for the first half. It's a gritty and rough book, but so imagistic and well written. Sarah, the housemaid, was a gutsy but innocent dreamer who dared to think about life beyond the confining borders of Longbourn. I loved learning her observations of the Bennet sisters, her many hard and tedious chores, and her interactions with the other members of the household, including Mr. and Mrs. Hill, naive Polly, and the brooding and mysterious footman, James Smith.

The writing and historical research is top notch, the author obviously spent tireless hours learning about how servants lived during the Regency period.

However, halfway through the book, (*I promise I won't give away spoilers*) Baker veers greatly away from the premise of Pride and Prejudice, and parts of the plot became so fantastical that I felt it was ridiculous. She also took liberties with existing characters that I did not like at all, they seemed so different than they did in Austen's novel.

Do I regret reading it? No, this is one of the most well written Jane Austen fan fiction pieces I have read, but it's nowhere near the caliber of it's inspiration.

Have you read Longbourn? What are your thoughts?

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