Just finished reading Jane Austen’s England by Roy and Lesley Adkins (2013) yesterday. A very enjoyable read. I actually finished the book thinking: ‘Is that it? Is that all there is? Isn’t there any more?’ I wanted the book to be twice as long as it was! But, I guess they had to decide what was an appropriate length for the subject matter. It was interesting to get some of the context and environment in which Austen was writing. Also refreshing, and in keeping with Austen’s novels, to read something that focused on more of the social context rather than historical/political. I would certainly recommend this to Austen fans. The only part I found a bit unsettling was the details of Jane’s passing, which her sister outlined in a letter. Then again, who wouldn’t be moved by those words? And they are but a few in a very pleasant read.
I just recently, within the last five days finished Longbourn by Jo Baker. As a member of the ‘Lovers of Jane Austen Army,’ I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book that featured the servants at Longbourn, the estate that is the focus of Pride and Prejudice. For its entertainment value I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed/enjoys Jane Austen novels.
However, I do want to point out that Ms. Baker does infuse a touch of 21st century sensibilities that her characters probably would not be cognizant of, given their social positions and what they probably would have known and understood of national and world issues. For example, when Sarah tells Ptolemy Bingley that she is sorry he was born a slave. Would she really have felt compelled to say that? Would she really have understood what that meant? Then again, I guess must defer to others who have more knowledge of what the majority of the population understood and knew at that period of time. Such as Ms. Baker herself, who did quite a bit of research for the book, and others.
Again, very enjoyable. Longbourn is a good piece of fiction if you enjoy stories from that time period (18th century).