If you’re a Jane Austen fan you’ll love Longborn by Jo Baker. It’s the servants’ story of Pride and Prejudice. In this delicious book most of the action takes place below stairs, with Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, taking centre stage while scrubbing, darning, lugging, polishing and working herself to a frazzle. Under the watchful eye of Mrs. Hill, the stern housekeeper, and starry-eyed Polly the kitchen maid, Sarah often dreams of a life outside Longbourn. When new footman James arrives, a mysterious lad with little to say, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall is shattered and forever changed. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey or the classic Upstairs Downstairs, you’ll love being immersed in the comings and goings of not only the staff at Longbourn but the Bennetts and their 5 eligible daughters. While life is drudgery, calloused hands, cold feet and slim pickins’ downstairs, it’s new bonnets and ball gowns, eligible bachelors, and keeping up appearances upstairs. After all, nothing is more important than getting those 5 girls married off successfully is there. This is a charming book. Great to read on a cold winter night when you’re comfy-cosy and can really appreciate the mood and feeling Baker creates in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars, when the gap between classes was so evident and life for those below stairs was so harsh. I thought it was great.

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