Longbourn by Jo Baker


The Masterpiece Classic series of Downton Abbey just launched their fourth season.


Mathew is dead and Mary is depressed.  My two favorite characters are gone.  I am 20 minutes into the season premier and I am so sad.  I want to sit down next to Mary and cry my eyes out while simultaneously shaking her back to life.  Maybe it is expecting too much of her character to be happy, but couldn’t she find the strength to love her child?  Instead she sends him off with a nanny all day and refers to him as an “orphan.”

Meanwhile, the staff is still engaged to make their “masters” happy.  Sometimes it reminds me of the joke: how many people does it take to screw in a light bulb, only how many people does it take to make the entire Crawley family happy?

indexThe book Longbourn by Jo Baker is the story of the maids and butlers in the Bennett household.  The Bennett household, from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, thrives upon the maids and butlers that keep things running smoothly behind the scenes.  Similar to the responsibilities of the maids in Downton Abbey, Sarah is responsible for cleaning the house, scrubbing mud from petticoats, and preparing the meals.  While Elizabeth and Jane and Lydia  are busily stitching together their “happily ever after,” Sarah is tired of living a life of servitude.  Orphaned and cared for by the “head-maid” at Longbourn, Sarah is desperately unhappy and starving for love.

A strange young man appears to serve as the footman for the Bennett family and Sarah’s world is turned upside down. The book is everything Downton Abbey with a little heartache and a lot of love nestled in between.  Sarah’s love life reminds me a little of the separation between Anna and Mr. Bates in season 3.

This book was everything I thought it would be and so much more.  I am now left with one major decision: do I re-read Longbourn or launch myself into Season 4 of Downton Abbey?