This book was a total standout for me, in that it may be the most boring thing I have ever read. I’m not ashamed to admit that I adore an Austen-adjacent story and this appeared to be an interesting take – Pride and Prejudice retold from the point of view of a servant in the Bennet’s home of Longbourn. Unfortunately, this makes the book so severely limited in scope, as though the servants are present throughout the story, their lives are necessarily filled with the drudgery of their work. I have never been so grateful for my washing machine until I was subjected to page after page of rather too much detail about the state of the Bennet family laundry.
The author does take a few licenses with the source material – the young Mr Bennet had a rather scandalous secret bastard son with Mrs Hill the housekeeper. This son reappears as a footman during the story without knowing the truth of his parentage… shades of Gosford Park. Elements of the original story are otherwise incorporated as we go along, which is fine while the action is actually taking place at Longbourn, but is completely forced when the story moves elsewhere, as obviously, the servants have no oversight as to what is going on away from home.
I think this novel would have been a lot more interesting if it were set in a larger household a la Downton Abbey or Gosford Park, or simply did away with the Pride and Prejudice connection all together, but at Longbourn with only Mr and Mrs Hill, Sarah, Polly and the footman, I’m not surprised the author spent so much time dwelling on laundry day.