If Jane Austen had written Longbourn
, she might have begun with a variation of Pride and Prejudice
's famous first sentence: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gentlewoman in need of a husband is also in need of a good servant." Pride and Prejudice
has been turned into movies, adapted for the stage, and inspired many volumes of fan fiction and spin-off stories. In my humble opinion, none of these complement and expand on Jane Austen's most famous novel, quite like Jo Baker's Longbourn
Longbourn is the childhood home of Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
's main character. The Bennets are not wealthy enough to afford full-time maids for the women of the house, so the house servants often have to do double duty. In Longbourn
, we hear from Sarah, the young housemaid, who washes the clothes, assists in the...
Beyond the Book
, the housemaid Sarah's frustration with the laundry would have been shared by anyone who cleaned clothes during the early 19th century. Our modern process of sorting, dumping into a machine, pouring in soap, and pressing a button is an embarrasingly wonderful diminution of this once complicated and time-intensive process.
Doing the laundry during this period was such a daunting task that even...