by Jo Baker
While Jane, Elizabeth and the rest of the Bennet girls were busy husbandhunting and skipping in and out of balls in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the servants downstairs at Longbourn House had a lot of chores to do to keep the idyllic household running. Perfectly timed for the Downton Abbey generation, Darcy and Elizabeth’s matrimonial concerns are swept aside as we meet Sarah – the Bennets’ gutsy, bookish housemaid – and James, their mysterious new footman. Baker strips the Regency novel of its veil of propriety and opens readers up to the other end of the social spectrum in Austen land. Like the original novel, Longbourn is a riveting, witty and romantic read – perhaps all the more so because of the dirty linen.