Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Longbourn (Jo Baker)

baker, jo - longbourn

★★★★★★☆

Title: Longbourn
Author: Jo Baker
Genre: Historical Fiction    Pages: 443
First published: 2013
Edition: Paperback, published by Transworld Books in 2014

It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and raw. Domestic life below stairs, ruled with a tender heart and an iron will by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman, bearing secrets and the scent of the sea.

When I started this novel based on Pride and Prejudice I realised I had read it before, probably around the time it came out. Since I did not remember much about it I was happy to read it again. I worried it would not be very good since I had completely forgotten I had already read it!

I was pleasantly surprised. The story, centered around the Bennets’ servants, is very well told. I loved all the details about their chores and their daily lives compared to the Bennets. Our main character Sarah is a sweet hard-working girl, and it is easy to like her.

The ‘cast’ from Pride and Prejudice appear here and there and you recognise the events, but it never feels like it leans too heavily on the classic we all know and love. In fact I thought it was quite interesting to see those characters ‘behind-the-scenes;, as it were. All in all, it does manage to very much feels like its own book. It would have worked even if it had not used Jane Austen’s novel as its skeleton.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it is a thoughtfully written historical novel in which you learn a lot more about the time period in which the Austen novels are set and written, and not just the pretty things.

A bit of a gem in my opinion.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: What Kitty Did Next (Carrie Kablean)

Kablean, Carrie - What Kitty Did Next

★★★★★☆☆

Title: What Kitty Did Next
Author:  Carrie Kablean
Genre: Fiction / Hstorical Fiction
First published: 28 June 2018 by RedDoor Publishing
Edition: E-book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

I love Jane Austen and a sequel of some sort is always ‘most welcome’. This one is definitely one of the better ones.

This story follows Kitty, who was best known in Pride and Prejudice as ‘the other silly sister’.  Having the spotlight put on her worked very well in my opinion. The imagined continuation of her life felt quite believable and the resulting wrap-up was satisfying.

I feel the author did a great job with a cast of mostly existing characters and as far as some sort of sequel goes, this book is definitely a success. The prose, especially in the beginning, is very much in the Austen vein. The strength of the prose and the story fluctuate a little and dips a little in the middle act, but overall I think this is a well written story that respects the original novel it flowed from.

Since I love Pride and Prejudice and am very familiar with these characters, I really enjoyed it. However, if you have not read Austen’s famous novel, I fear this book may fall a bit flat.

5 out of 7 stars