Longbourn by Jo Baker


Much like Downton Abbey, Longbourn gives us a look at what happens downstairs in the kitchens, and maids and footman’s quarters of the Bennet household (the Bennet’s of Pride and Prejudice).  From the housemaids Sarah and Polly, to the Housekeeper Mrs. Hill, to the mysterious and handsome new footman named James Smith, there is just as much emotion and drama going on below the stairs as there is above. 



In a modern world of many books taking a turn at the Pride and Prejudice classic (how can we ever forget Pride and Prejudice and Zombies???), it is almost with a sign of relief that I entered into this audio book knowing that I was entering the Bennet household zombie, vampire, and sea monster free. 

As a big fan of the Downton Abbey Series (insert *sigh* here) and seeing many positive things said about the book, I eagerly downloaded this one to my phone.  I am, as many are, fascinated that we as a society are not only intrigued with the rich and famous of the world, but also with the goings on of those who work for them.  It is like a whole new era of potential rewriting.

Narrator Emma Fielding executed a wonderful flow to the book.  Her voice was smooth and engaging. 

Overall, I am going to be in the minority on this one.  Perhaps my feelings are based on the fact that I have never read Pride and Prejudice in its entirety (I know, I know.. put the torched down!  I am working on it!) I found Longbourn to be a bit drawn out and not as action packed as I had hoped – instead it was more of a slowly drawn out romance read, strongly leaning on a few main characters instead of the household.  Romance reads have never been my thing.  Longbourn does have its moments.  My favorites are when the staff engage with the characters we know from Pride and Prejudice.  I am sure if I had read P & P I would have connected more with the happenings.

I may have chosen the wrong time to listen to it, my mind tended to wander during the audio and it did not hold me for whatever reason.  In this case, it may have served better to have read the book. 

I do, as I mentioned, realize I am in the minority on this one, and as I do in any review that was not as favorable as I had intended, I offer to you reviews from bloggers I trust who had other opinions on Longbourn:

Beth Fish Reads

The Lost Entwife

Literate Housewife

Longbourn, as part of the Bennet Family household, is set near London.



26 thoughts on “Longbourn by Jo Baker

  1. I am pretty keen to read/listen to this one – but I think the slower pace is probably designed to mirror P&P (which is pretty long and slow! but beautiful). Your review hasn’t put me off it at all 🙂

  2. As you know I loved this one! But I know P&P inside and out, and I think you’re right — knowing the novel well meant that I knew exactly where we were in the Austen story as I read what was happening downstairs. That likely made a huge difference.

    1. Its like I started a book in the middle of a story line Candice. 🙂 It was your review that made me want to read (listen) to it. I am still glad I did… my timing is probably off and I need to do P and P first.

  3. hm. I don’t think I am enough of a fangirl for this one. I considered it, but I have only read P&P once. I would probably be in the minority for Austen period.

  4. This book definitely has a different vibe to it than Pride and Prejudice. I really liked it but it is a slower paced book. P & P had snappy dialogue and humor as well as really good chemistry between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. That is missing here.

  5. I had to laugh when I read this: “it is almost with a sign of relief that I entered into this audio book knowing that I was entering the Bennet household zombie, vampire, and sea monster free.” I’ve been feeling much the same! I have Longbourn in my sights but I’m still not sure about it yet. I do love P&P and Downton Abbey, but I haven’t read any P&P spinoffs that I’ve really liked yet.

  6. It’s on my TBR list but I think I’ll probably read a print edition – less easy for my mind to wander when I have to look at the page 😉

  7. I understand where you’re coming from; I’m not a big romance reader myself, so I don’t really enjoy those types of reads,even though they may actually be great ones for genre lovers. Just like you, I tend to put a disclaimer in that it simply wasn’t my type of read, even if the writing is spot-on.

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