Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Longbourn. A book review.



 I'm a big fan of audio books. I like to listen to audiobooks while I do chores around the house, and drive to pick up my kids, or run errands. 

And everyone who knows me knows I'm also a big fan of Jane Austen novels. This book happens to be the tale of Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen's novel- from the perspective of the servants in the household. 

While discussing something completely different with my husband tonight, we ended up listening to a musical excerpt of a piano and violin combination. It was beautiful and it made me think fondly back of this particular book.  In Jane Austen's era there are two kinds of people- the privileged, and the unprivileged. 

The privileged women spend their time preparing to be a wonderful wife. They learn French, they perfect their musical abilities on piano and/or violin, and singing, and they become accomplished artists. 

All of these are apparently skills required to catch a husband with a high income. While talking about this with my husband, I expressed my desire to live in a different era-- in Jane Austen's area when I could be born into a life of privilege and spend my teen and young adult years learning to play the violin and to sing and paint.

Matt explained that if that were to really happen to travel back in time, I would not  be allowed to be born into such a family, but would create a situation where I was suddenly thrust into a society where no one knew who I was and they would probably consider me some sort of witch and behead me. 

On the contrary, my Time Machine is going to make me a fetus in the womb of a well-to-do lady. When that happens I'll be born into a life where people wait on me hand and foot, feed me bread with jam and tea, and dress me in fancy dresses so that I can go play cards and play the piano for eligible bachelors. 

This book I read,  Longbourn, does not tell that tale. It describes the life of a servant who empties bedpans and washes out the monthly linens for the ladies of the house. Spoiler alert: the happy ending is when the lady servant leaves the household to run off with her male servant lover and become basically gypsies to do migrant work, but are happy because they have each other. 

Let me say I did really enjoy this book, and even considering the somewhat unhappy happy ending, I thought it was well done. Despite some more vulgar parts that would not be included in the Jane Austen novel, I thought it was a good work of fan fiction. If you're the sort of person who likes Jane Austen novels, I highly recommend this. If you are the sort of person that wants to travel back in time to the era of Jane Austen novels please know that you might be born a servant and your happy ending my include migrant farm work and illegitimate children. 

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