The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: Jo Baker

The Year in Review


I can’t believe it’s time to wrap up another year. By my count, I’ve read about fifty books this year; there were surprises, winners and losers. I am not going to review but just list those that impressed me this year.


So let me start with some of my favorites:

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein tops the list. The author of The Art of Dancing in the Rain has a mystical way of writing that makes reading his books an absolute pleasure.

Longbourn by Jo Baker really caught my attention because Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite classics.

One that I received in exchange for a review, Till The Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma was a trip to India in a well-written story.

Sarah Jio, always a favorite of mine, once again makes the list with Morning Glory. This was on last year’s wish list and wishes do come true.

Troika by Adam Pelzmar spanned the globe from Russia to the United States with a surprisingly good story.

One of my favorite “favorites” was Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. This one kept me thinking long after the last page. I encourage you to read my review and consider it strongly when you next choose a book.

Unfortunately there were books that make the not so favorite list:

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield was another on last year’s wish list. Now I wish it hadn’t been. I found her writing extremely disappointing especially after loving The Thirteenth Tale so much.

Another on that wish list was The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. Amy, what happened here??????

A title that you have seen on all the “best” lists this year doesn’t make my “best” but rather my “least” list. A Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, honestly I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Simply ridiculous is what I’d say about A Storied Life of A. J. Firky by Gabrielle Zevin. I was expecting something good here but one again was disappointed.

Lastly, Away by Amy Bloom didn’t even get reviewed.


There you have it. 2014 summed up, page by page. I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year filled with adventure, romance and suspense. Thank you for following The Book Mark. I look forward to reading and reviewing in 2015.




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.