Longbourn by Jo Baker plunges us into the lives of the servants in Pride and Prejudice. My favorite parts are the descriptions of Sarah, the maid, doing laundry.”She slopped the petticoat into the grey bubbling water, lifted the laundry stick, and prodded the fabric down, poking the air out of it, then stirring.”
I also like Sarah’s sardonic asides: “If Elizabeth had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.”
Jo Baker’s meticulous research never weighs down the story. She weaves the facts of daily life into her plot, extending and developing her characters through the material culture of their world. I could not get enough of the baking, the sweeping, the scrubbing, the hard work of 18th century life.