Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review: Longbourn by Jo Baker

I won't even lie, I read this one only because I saw it reviewed with a Downton Abbey shout out.  And, of course, I'm willing to read anything that is rumored to be reminiscent of my current favorite show.  I'm not really into the whole Pride and Prejudice thing, but I was willing to overlook that aspect since, you know, Downton.  Basically, this is the servant's version of P&P.  Thankfully for me, it's not just a retelling of the original story.  It's definitely it's own unique story, just set against the backdrop of the classic.

While I was impressed overall with the quality of the writing, I felt like there was a digression during the last quarter or so of the book that was utterly unnecessary.  As long as the action stayed around Longbourn and concerned the main characters, I was loving it.  It was this weird backstory portion regarding one of the main characters that I was less interested in.  It felt like two different stories and took me out of the great story that I was interested in for the first three quarters.  I suppose that's also an entertainment value comment, but I felt like it made the book feel in need of a good edit and maybe some killing of the author's darlings.

Entertainment Value
Despite my dislike of the flashback/back story portion of the book, I still found it to be captivating.  I loved that the bare bones of the original story are present, but that the author really gives us a completely original story with the servants.  And it definitely had the upstairs/downstairs, Downton Abbey-esque feeling I was hoping it would.

I recommend it to fans of historical fiction, fans of the original or of retellings of the original, and those who are as obsessed with Downton as I am.

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