Saturday Shelfie

It has been three weeks since I last blogged. I guess that hiatus has effectively broken my “one post per week” goal! But now I have five weeks of spring break (five whole weeks!) in which I hope to find more time to blog, as well as writing all of the essays and tackling the mountain of coursework I need to catch up on. And of course, more free time equals more time to read! My current read and this week’s Saturday Shelfie is an intriguing re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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Saturday Shelfie is a fortnightly feature and blogging event here at Cultural Life. If you’re a blogger and would like to take part, the guidelines are simple: grab the Saturday Shelfie badge for your post (right click on the badge and “save as…”) and publish a photo of your current read, along with a brief synopsis and/or your thoughts on it. Don’t forget to link back to this post so that your Saturday Shelfie post will appear as a “pingback” link below this post!

Longbourn

Longbourn by Jo Baker is a re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the perspectives of the servants who live and work in the Bennet household. Although I have written before about my objections to the retelling of classic novels in my posts Do Modern Retellings of Classic Novels Actually Work? and Classic Novels, Retold, I was mostly focusing on modern re-imaginings of Jane Austen’s novels. Those irk me because I see no need to update classic novels for contemporary readers.

However, Longbourn is different. It uniquely complements Pride and Prejudice because it provides an insight into the world of the people who worked behind the scenes. Although beloved characters such as Elizabeth and Darcy are, of course, present in the book, they are always viewed through the eyes of the household staff. For example, those of you who have read P&P may remember the scene when Elizabeth enjoys a walk across the fields to visit her sister Jane.

“Elizabeth continued her walk alone, crossing field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of exercise” (P&P, chapter 7)

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In Longbourn, Jo Baker gives a new perspective to this scene and presents a very different view of P&P: the ‘other side’ of genteel Georgian England:

“If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields” (Longbourn, page 11).

What are you reading this weekend?

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9 thoughts on “Saturday Shelfie

  1. Five weeks of spring break! I am so jealous. I just finished my week-long spring break, and I used it to write papers and get ahead on coursework. I can’t even imagine what I’d do with five weeks! I hope you find some time to enjoy.

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    • I know! It’s such a long time. My university gives all of us a lovely, long break. However, it does mean that we’re given a lot of work to do during the break. I am looking forward to taking a little time off as well though. 🙂

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  2. I thought we were the only ones to get five weeks so it’s cool you get five too! (you’re not also in the UK by any chance, are you? haha) I’ve heard good things about this book so hopefully you’ll enjoy it too! I also agree that modern retellings can get pretty old and they rarely, if ever, match up to the original anyway. Enjoy your long break (mine starts next week!) and good luck on those essays that still need writing. 😉

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    • Yes, I am in the UK, although I want to move to the States and study at grad school there. 🙂 Longbourn is great so far. I’m really intrigued to see how it will end. Thank you! I hope you have a great spring break too! I’m planning to tackle essays etc. early so I can get them all done and out of the way. 🙂

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  3. Wow! Five whole weeks. That’s awesome. As the person who does most of the laundry in my household I have to agree with Sarah. Stop creating so much laundry! Enjoy your time.

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  4. Loved the post. You have raised my curiosity about this modern re-telling of P&P.

    I have always wondered what is that ingredient which makes a sequel or prequel worthy of the original? While Longbourn is clearly not a sequel in the strict sense of the word, it does take the P&P story forward, albeit through the eyes of different characters. I suppose the trick would be to maintain the same level of emotions in the minds of the Reader as the original. Your post seems to indicate that Longbourn has admirably succeeded in this regard.

    Shakti

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    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      While I still much prefer the original, Longbourn is intriguing and it does bring something new to the story, mainly the contrasts between the different social classes in Austen’s time. Thanks for your comment!

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