Can’t wait until Downtown Abbey returns in January (OMG Paul Giamatti!) or super into Jane Austen? You’ll be psyched for Longbourn by Jo Baker. This isn’t some lame reworking that romances Darcy or whatnot. This is a Below the Stairs look at life in Austenland, complete with well-drawn characters, plot, and drama.
You’ll see the Bennet’s in a new light when reading this book. It follows orphaned housemaid Sarah as she spends her days toiling on the floors, emptying chamberpots, trying to keep the girls’ linens white. A new footman arrives and throws the downstairs on its end. If nothing else, you’ll find yourself actually sympathizing with Mary Bennet but just as irritated with Mrs. Bennet as in the original. As Bookavore smartly says, “I have a soft spot for Austen that hardens when I discover Austen-inspired fiction (MR. DARCY IS NOT REAL AND YOU CANNOT MARRY HIM, GET OVER IT), but this book just melted me.”