This was one of the books I received for my birthday, and I actually started reading it quite a while ago but deadlines got in the way! So I thought I'd take the opportunity to finish it while it's still the Christmas holidays. Though I'm posting this in 2015, I actually finished this at the end of 2014 so it wasn't my first book of the year. You've still got that to look forward to ;)
Today's review is about:
Genre:Historical fiction, classic retelling
The familiar cast of Pride and Prejudice may experience some emotional ups and downs in their story, but behind the scenes the servants' lives are no less tumultuous as they experience love, loss and the past coming back to haunt them.
Review:Being a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, I wasn't sure what I would make of this retelling from the servants' point of view. I think I was mostly worried that it would either not live up to the original or worse, would even ruin the original for me.
I'm happy to say, though, that I did really enjoy this book despite my reservations. I thought the writing style was great, and the choice of language really fitted with the time period without feeling too weird or forced.
I particularly enjoyed the reference to all the parts of daily life Jane Austen wouldn't dream of mentioning, dirty laundry and chamber pots for example! I also enjoyed the slightly different slant on many of the characters. Mr Bennet doesn't come off quite so well as he does in the original, and Mrs Bennet's actions become understandable, even reasonable. Though on a couple of occasions I did think the author had used a little too much artistic license on Austen's characters, for the most part the fresh perspectives were really interesting. I also enjoyed how the events of the book lined up with those of the original, but with a completely different slant. It really threw into sharp relief the disparity between the classes, as well as raising bigger issues about the stories and perspectives an author chooses to present (and why).
|This was the perfect book to curl up with at my grandma's.|
A couple of things did get on my nerves a little, like the almost-love-triangle at the beginning which I just felt didn't really serve any purpose apart from to prolong the moment until the real love story kicks in. Plus, there is a sizeable chunk describing life in the army, which I felt didn't really gel with the rest of the book. It was mostly interesting and clearly well-researched but I just couldn't help feeling that it wasn't what I signed up for when I picked up the book!
My mum also read this book recently and had a good long moan about the inaccuracies and anachronisms that she found in it. She's particularly fond of books written in this time period and has read quite a few that give specific details of daily life, so these things were a lot more obvious to her. I can't say they bothered me too much though... Anachronisms normally do bother me, but I don't think the ones in this book are particularly noticeable (unless you're a real stickler for minute details like my mum!).
Despite its (relatively minor) flaws, I really liked this book. In fact, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I found it particularly interesting as someone who has already read most of Jane Austen, including Pride and Prejudice, but it might also be interesting to get the perspective of someone who hasn't read the original.
What did you think of Longbourn? Do you agree with my review? I'd also be interested to hear what you think of this type of spin-off book - there seem to be a lot around at the moment, especially of Jane Austen's books. Let me know what you think in the comments!