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When 'Downton Abbey' meets 'Pride and Prejudice'

Call it the 'Downton Abbey' effect: A new novel will revisit the events of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' — from the perspective of the servants.

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    Jane Austen expert Hazel Jones reads from "Pride and Prejudice" on January 28, the 200th anniversary of the famous novel's publication.
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A British writer has written a book based on Jane Austen's classic novel "Pride and Prejudice" but told from the servants' point of view, its U.S. publisher said on Thursday.

In "Longbourn," which will be released later this year in the United States, writer Jo Baker focuses on a romance between the main characters, a newly arrived footman and a housemaid on the Bennet family estate.

"While 'Longbourn' brings to life a different side of the world Austen first created, I was impressed even more by the way this novel stands as a transporting, fully realized work of fiction in its own right," Diane Coglianese, an editor at publisher Alfred K. Knopf, said in a statement.

Baker describes the chaos downstairs among the Bennets' servants, the preparation for the lavish balls, the housekeeper's thoughts about the family patriarch and the tragedy of the Napoleonic wars.

Baker, who was born and lives in Lancashire, England, has written other books, including "Offcomer," and "The Mermaid's Child."

Random House Studio and Focus Features have purchased the film rights for "Longbourn." Transworld will publish the book in Britain and Random House is the Canadian publisher.

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