A novel reimagining Pride and Prejudice from the servants' viewpoint.
'If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,' Sarah thought, 'she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.' 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.
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Staff Reviews I am a dedicated Janeite and normally steer clear of follow-ons by new writers (not for me Pride and Zombies and I even had reservations about Death Comes to Pemberly) . I thought PJ James captured the right style and flavour but it just wasn't Jane Austen. However I really loved this. No it's not Jane but it manages to combine all the well-loved characters and the familiar plot but give you a completely different perspective.
This is Pride and Prejudice but retold from the servants' viewpoint. The time frame is approximately the same, the events are broadly similar but oh the difference a change of view makes. From below stairs the emphasis and relative importance of things is quite different. The courtship of Jane and Bingley is happening and all that to-ing and fro-ing to Netherfield makes more work (someone has to wash those petticoats four inches deep in mud you know) but the key concern for the servants is the visit of Mr Collins, he will inherit and they know if they fail to make a good impression they may end up with no home and no livelihood. If you are a Darcy groupie I am sorry he barely appears (you didn't think he go down to the servants hall really did you) but Wickham does.
The staff at Longbourn : Sarah, Mr and Mrs Hill, James and Polly have their own stories too. They are engaging characters in their own right and you will care what happens to them. Their lives are harder than the Bennetts, they work long hours and have little free time and less independence. This is the grittier, seamier side of life and the impact of the Peninsular Wars is felt keenly.
This novel is extremely well written. You could read it without knowing Pride and Prejudice but if you do, and you so should, then it will mean all the more to you and you may think again about some of fiction's favourite characters.
Sally Hughes Assistant Retail Manager