In Pride & Prejudice, the Bennet family is presented as modest among the higher classes of Darcy and Bingley. However, the Bennets employed house staff who managed all of their cooking and cleaning. This is a family of girls who do not know physical labor or hardship in a real sense. Longbourn shows us the working class side of regency England. The downstairs of Downton Abbey, if you will. It brings new light to our favorite whip-smart heroine Elizabeth when her maids constantly scrub her dirty petticoats and scrape mud from her boots.
The characters lean toward source material, though the house staff clearly have their own story. What I found interesting is how the house staff perceives Mr. Collins; he is still odd, but kind, and pitied more for being lonely. He is not portrayed as a total fool, possibly given how he addresses the staff like they are real people, which at the time was considered beneath his standing. Even Mary is considered more thoughtfully, not as a hopeless case future spinster, but as a faithful daughter who will secure a place for the elder house staff at Longbourn after the other sisters have gone off and married. Marriage of the Bennet sisters is bittersweet for those employed by the family; once the household shrinks, loss of their job is a very real threat.
With very capable and often lovely writing, Longourn shows P&P in a different light, and not at the expense of the original story.
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