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2014 Reading Adventures > Longbourn by Jo Baker

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Madelyn Grace (literarymaddness) | 74 comments Mod
Hello Bookworms,

I hope you enjoying February's reads! Please leave feedback!

1. What did you think of Jo Baker's stylistic choice to include multiple characters' perspectives in a single chapter? Do you think it enhanced the book?

2. Longbourn provides an alternative angle to Pride and Prejudice. Can you think of a classic novel that you would like to see rewritten in another character's voice?

3. Lizzie Bennet is a much-loved heroine. Has Longbourn changed your view of her at all? Do you think she acts selfishly in relation to Sarah?

4. For those who have read Pride and Prejudice recently, do you know the significance in Pride and Prejudice of the whipping that Sarah witnesses in Longbourn?

5. Longbourn is a book that stands alone as having its own story, characters and themes–how far has the author ensured her novel is not pastiche, that it is a novel with a separate identity from the beloved classic. Do you agree?

Please leave feedback!

Sheila A. | 4 comments I loved this book also, it was very well done. Jo Baker showed a grittier side of life that was true to the way these people lived at this time. It truly is not a copy of the beloved classic!!!!

message 3: by Colleen (new) - added it

Colleen Again, I feel I'm going to need to read the first book before starting a "sequel". Pride & Prejudice is on my TBR list. I'm sure she was an amazing author. When a contemporary author writes a book on fictional characters from the past tells you what an impact that classics author has had. Will look forward to what others think of the book.

Tina I recently read Longbourn and loved it, so I'm happy to see it discussed here :)

1. I think this really worked well in order to slowly unravel the backgrounds of the characters, their complexity and involvement in each other. The shift between perspectives was smooth and natural, for example between Sarah and James. It could have be frustrating to read, and I'm not always happy about a book changing back and forth between perspectives, but it worked for me in this case.

2. Not at hand, but I read Havisham by Ronald Frame and it is the story of Catherine Havisham from Great Expectations. Also a great read, diving into a story from another perspective.

3. Yes, I do think most of the Bennets including Elizabeth act very selfishly toward their servants in this book. They come across as relatively kind masters, but with a very superficial interest and kindness in regard to their servants and at the end they seem more interested in their own needs, as in the case of Elizabeth and Sarah. Some of Elizabeths selfish behavior towards Sarah comes across as coming from insecurity, and I think we see Sarah mature and move ahead of her, when it comes to discovering love, and making decisions for herself.

4. I haven't read the whole P&P, although it stands on my book shelf. I know the movies by heart though and found that helpful in regard to understanding what were going on upstairs in Longbourn. I thought the whipping to be an invention of Jo Baker? But I'm interested to hear if it's actually taking place in P&P.

5. The book very much stands alone. I don't find the Bennet part overshadowed the main characters, and I'm glad the Bennets and Mr. Darcy doesn't play a bigger role and the story could possibly have worked with another background family, although it is a nice addition that is written into the Bennet household. I like that it is dipping into all the dirt and hardship endured behind the scenes by servants, soldiers and slaves to keep up the good appearances of gentlefolk. Jo Baker also manages to create interesting and likable characters and write their love story with much insight. I think my only slight criticism is that the ending felt a bit rushed. I actually don't see myself reading other of the Jane Austen pastiches out there, but I'm glad I opted to go for this one, as it offers so much more.

Jacey | 23 comments The use of multiple character perspectives didn't really bother me. Sometimes, when books switch back and forth, it exhausts me trying to keep up with which character is narrating. I don't think it necessarily enhanced the book, but I don't think it hindered the reader either.

It's been a while since I've read most of the classics, so I cannot think of one I would particularly like to see from another point of view. However, I have found that if it's well written, I really enjoy seeing multiple sides of the same story.

I could never really get it out of my head that this was separate from Pride & Prejudice. I loved the story of Elizabeth and Darcy, and I kept wanting to hear more about them instead of James and Sarah. For someone who was not familiar with P&P, the story was probably strong enough to stand on its own. However, as a fan of P&P, I just wanted more out it. Certain parts of the story interested me, but I got bored with some parts and just wanted to get it over it.

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