January 15, 2014
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My last five days have been spent reading the incredible novel, Longbourn (A) by Jo Baker.
Similar to Downtown Abbey (a favorite of mine), Jo Baker explores the lives of the servants working for the Bennet family of Pride and Prejudice (another favorite). As we are reminded of the events unfolding in Pride and Prejudice, the author tells of the activities occurring belowstairs. There, Sarah the orphan, now housemaid is the main character. Raised under the care of Mrs. Hill the head housekeeper, Sarah has grown into a beautiful and loving young woman. She hopes that one day she can explore the world outside Hertfordshire and find a life she can claim as her own. Until then, she lives in servitude tending the every need of the Bennet family.
Despite her initial unfriendly attitude toward James, the new footman, love wins out and they carry on in secret. When it comes to secrets though it is James that holds many, and he isn’t alone either. Eventually fearing that his cover is blown, he leaves Sarah and his coveted position at Hertfordshire. Sarah along with everyone is devastated. She lives for the moment she can be with him again.
With wonderfully written characters such as Sarah, Mrs. Hill and Polly, the author delivers an engaging novel that quenched this reader’s thirst for a Jane Austen novel. I love the notion that there was a simultaneous story to Pride and Prejudice. I couldn’t have imagined one more perfect than Longbourn.
So for those like me to can’t get enough of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey, get a copy of Longbourn immediately. Be prepared to do nothing else until you have devoured every written word. Bravo, Jo Baker!!!!! You have made me very happy.
January 14, 2013
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Death Comes to Pemberly (A) by P.D.James is definitely for the Jane Austen fan. James has written a novel in the exact style of Austen. She has written what should be considered the “sequel” to Pride and Prejudice.
Elizabeth and Darcy are now married and living with their children in Darcy’s family home Pemberly. Preparations have begun for the annual Lady Ann ball. Guests have started to arrive and the household is consumed with making things ready for the big event. On the eve of the party, a carriage races in a storm to the door of the mansion. Lydia, Elizabeth’s sister who is married to George Wickham, arrives uninvited and in grave distress. The driver of the coach relates the events that have just occurred. Lydia with her husband George and his friend Denny were traveling together. The men had words and Denny left the carriage racing into the dark, menacing woods. George followed him and not long after gunshots were heard. A search party gathers and heads to the woods to find the two missing men. Lydia, in complete hysterics, is sedated and left to wait with the women at Pemberly.
Within the hour, George Wickham is discovered hovering over the body of Denny. He is ranting what sounds to be a confession of murder. Bringing back all the characters from Pride and Prejudice, James weaves a murder mystery just as well as Austen would have done herself.
Without a doubt Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and I couldn’t be more pleased with Death Comes to Pemberly. From the style of writing to the reunion with the characters, James pens a remarkable mystery that left me wanting more. I can’t believe that I took so long to read this exciting novel. If you are like me, a Jane Austen fan, then immediately add Death Comes to Pemberly to your bookshelf. You will not be sorry.