443 pages ~ ★★★★☆ ~ Paperback
For those who love Pride and Prejudice there are plenty of adaptations and sequels to explore. Longbourn takes a slightly different approach, its set alongside the classic novel from the perspective of the Bennett’s servants. Those who have seen the BBC adaptation may recall Alison Steadman’s shrieks of ‘Hill!’ whenever she receives any kind of news but apart from that the family’s staff aren’t really mentioned.
In this we follow Mr and Mrs Hill, Sarah, Polly and James and see the events at Longbourn unfold from their perspective; as the Lydia and Kitty get excited about each dance or ball; Sarah and Polly are repairing and adjusting dresses and waiting up to the early hours afterwards to get them ready for bed. For every romanticised walk across a muddy field Lizzy goes on, Sarah is scrubbing her petticoats clean – you get the idea.
As well as getting the well known plot from the Bennetts, the serving staff also have all their own dramas going on, including a very interesting back story for Mrs Hill, which initially I turned my nose up at but as it developed it I became quite attached to. I really enjoyed seeing the two intertwine, obviously there’s a lot that goes on that the staff don’t ever hear about, some things they hear whispers of but never get the details; for example when Jane goes off to London to stay with her Aunt and Uncle all the staff know if there’s one less Bennett to wait on.
For me this was a very cosy read and I got similar nostalgic feelings to re-reading an old favorite despite never having read this, if you enjoy Pride and Prejudice I’d recommend picking up a copy. Also if you enjoy programs like Downton Abbey where there’s a bit more focus on a house’s staff then you’ll probably also enjoy this.
I’m going to be passing my copy onto my mum (no idea when I’ll be able to right now but at somepoint) as I’m sure she’ll enjoy this! I discovered this as the June pick for Lauren and the Books Patreon Book Club, I’m really glad this got selected and am looking forward to the YouTube live discussion at the end of the month.