Book Review of "Longbourn" by Jo Baker | Cassia & Co.

I had been in a book rut for most of the summer. I tried a few different books and just could not find one that was interesting. As I was browsing through Instagram looking for recommendations, I came across “Longbourn” by Jo Baker a couple of times. I had heard of it, but I honestly didn’t know anything about it. So, I turned to my trusty library’s website and looked it up. I was intrigued, and it was available, so Finn and I packed up and went and got it that day.

“Longbourn” is set in the same place and time as Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” (a book I love, love, love). However, it is told from the perspective of the servants who run the house at Longbourn, which the Bennett family inhabits. It primarily follows the maid, Sarah, but the housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, is also prominent.

I think that Jo Baker, the author, does a great job of telling a unique story while completely transporting the reader back to Jane Austen’s beloved world of Longbourn. I greatly appreciated that she did not focus too much on the Bennett family or the interactions that took place in “Pride & Prejudice”. Jo is able to accurately portray the original Austen characters and perfectly intertwine details from the original story into the new story she creates for her characters. The overlap of the stories is perfection, and she exercises skillful restraint in leaving out details that the servants would not have been privy to and likely would not have cared about.

I also appreciated that Jo was able to offer some critique of the original Austen characters without coming off as complaining. She did not in any way tarnish the Bennetts by taking up the servants’ story, nor did she pit the servants against the Bennett family. She does include frustrations that the servants likely would have felt, such as Sarah’s frustration on wash day that Elizabeth had gotten so much mud on her petticoats. It’s a fair criticism and also speaks to Jo’s intimate knowledge of the Austen characters, which adds further depth to her book.

I greatly enjoyed seeing the story unfold and at points, was not sure what would happen next. I felt genuine care and concern for Sarah and Mrs. Hill. I was intrigued by the character, James. I felt the ending was fair and interesting. The story was engrossing from beginning to end, and to be honest, I was a little sad when I finished the book. I would have liked to have continued on with Sarah’s story for much longer if it had been possible.

On the whole, “Longbourn” was a quick read, and I would recommend it if someone is looking for a period piece with a little romance and endearing characters.

I should note that if you have not read “Pride & Prejudice”, I highly recommend it to you. Also, I think you could read “Longbourn” and follow along without having read “Pride & Prejudice” first. I think you would more deeply appreciate “Longbourn” if you have read “Pride & Prejudice”, but I don’t think it is a requirement. The two stories can stand alone in many ways.

Finally, if you liked “Pride & Prejudice” and are looking for something set in the same world, I think you would enjoy this book as well. Jo, the author, does a great job of telling a new story, while interweaving details from Jane Austen’s book. As the reader, you very much feel that you are at the Longbourn estate.

If you have read “Longbourn”, I would love to hear your thoughts. From what I could tell of the reviews online, people seem to really like it or really dislike it.

Weekly Menu {8/8–8/12} | Cassia & Co

Hi all. It’s been a while. We’ve been busy over here, but I hope things will be settling down a bit. How have you been? I hope well. I’ll get right to it, here is what’s on the menu this week.

MondayItalian Salad Sandwiches. These seem like the perfect flavorful yet easy to put together sandwiches for a weeknight meal.

TuesdayChicken & Spinach Enchiladas. A recipe for enchiladas keeps popping up in my Pinterest feed so now I am craving them. I will likely pick up a rotisserie chicken and use the meat from that to save a little time. Plus, Dylan likes to take the extra meat for lunch during the week.

Wednesday—Dinner with friends

ThursdayPenne Rosa with Breaded Chicken

FridayHoney Mustard Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes. We have some pork chops left over from last week that I stuck in the freezer. I may bake the pork rather than grilling it, but we shall see.

Have a great week!

{Image via Crate & Barrel}

S'mores Bars | Cassia & Co.

I made a batch of S’mores Bars earlier this month as my birthday dessert. They were perfect! Sweet, crunchy, marshmallowy. I think they would be a great dessert for a Fourth of July party, and I may just whip up a batch for our own barbecue.

S’mores Bars

Ingredients

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 bag (around 6 cups) miniature marshmallows

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 box (around 8.5 cups) Golden Grahams cereal

1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chunks*

*Note: At Target, I found a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chunks by Nestle Tollhouse. The pieces were a little bit bigger than chocolate chips. In a pinch, just use chocolate chips. The bars will look slightly different, but it won’t affect the taste.

Directions

Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan to help prevent sticking.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the 5 1/2 cups of marshmallows (it ends up being most of the bag) and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Gradually add the Golden Grahams cereal to the saucepan. Stir until well coated.

Fold in the remaining marshmallows. Then, fold in the chocolate chunks.

Using buttered spatula, press the mixture into the prepared pan. Cool in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

To serve, cut into squares and enjoy!

{Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction}

Rosé Cocktails via MyDomaine

Rosé continues to be a favorite wine varietal of choice, and I think for good reason. It is light and lively and a versatile option to pair with just about anything. I want to sip each and every one of these 7 rosé cocktails from MyDomaine. Go check them out and add the ingredients to your grocery list for happy hour!

P.S. If you are new to rosé, I wrote a whole post about it—So, Let’s Talk about Rosé.

{Images via MyDomaine}

 

Weekly Menu {6/13–6/17} | Cassia & Co

Did you have a nice weekend? Mine was a lot of fun. In between normal life things, we did a few things to celebrate my birthday (which is on Tuesday). It was hot, hot, hot here on Saturday so we went out to a lake west of the city. It is a man-made lake that is filtered and chlorinated. The great thing about it is that it isn’t very deep. It was perfect for Finn to be able to walk and splash around. Then, on Sunday, Dylan made us ribs, mashed potatoes, and salad for dinner. The ribs were so good! It was a great way to close out the weekend.

Without further ado, here’s what’s on the menu this week.

Monday—Leftovers

Tuesday—Ordering pizza from Pizza Luce to celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday—Dinner at a friend’s house

ThursdayMediterranean Tuna Sandwiches

Friday—Breakfast tacos. I like to use scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, red pepper, cilantro, and avocado. We make these for breakfast a lot on the weekends, but it seems like a fun, easy option for a Friday night.

{Image via 100 Layer Cake}