Longbourn by Jo Baker centers around Sarah, a housemaid in the Bennet household, who was taken in by the housekeeper after losing her parents as a child. The work seems never-ending to keep up with the needs of the five Bennet sisters and their eccentric mother. But everything below stairs at Longbourn soon changes as a mysterious new footman arrives, promising not only a lightened load, but fresh new life into the otherwise tiresome responsibilities of the household servants. But Sarah learns you must be careful what you wish for:
This was what Sarah had always wanted: something--anything --to disturb the quiet, to distract her from the sounds of Mr Hill's revolving mastication, and the prospect of another spiritless evening, and the monotony of her own voice reading three-decker novels and three-day-old news. But now change had come to Longbourn, and Polly was staring at it as if she were a simpleton, and Mrs Hill kept topping up its glass, and even Mr Hill was smiling and glancing at it and then shyly away, and Sarah was left heartsick and ignored, and wishing that this change, with its dark hair and its hazel eyes, and its skin the colour of tea, had never come to Longbourn at all.
While knowing the story of Pride and Prejudice is not necessary prior to reading Longbourn, it certainly adds to the story's complexity. Just when you think you've figured everything out, there are more and more plot twists you'll never see coming. And the author's description of each of the characters makes even the secondary players important and intriguing. Pick this book up and you won't be able to put it down!