Below Stairs

Below Stairs

The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"

Book - 2012
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Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs , Margaret Powell's classic memoir of her time in service, Below Stairs, is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high. Powell first arrived at the servants' entrance of one of those great houses in the 1920s. As a kitchen maid - the lowest of the low - she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were. Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids' curlers, to raucous tea-dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlormaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress's nephew, Margaret's tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation. Margaret Powell's true story of a life spent in service is a fascinating "downstairs" portrait of the glittering, long-gone worlds behind the closed doors of Downton Abbey and 165 Eaton Place.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2012
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781250005441
1250005442
Branch Call Number: B Powell 2012
Characteristics: 212 p. ; 22 cm

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ezhurbin Mar 09, 2016

Reading this book is like gossiping with a friend-it waivers between interesting and tiring. I really did enjoy reading about details of day to day life of servants, but toward the end of the book it began to get repetitive and boring. The author is pretty funny and she addresses subjects like sex and having babies with candor you don't expect from a person of her generation. Overall, it's an easy and fun book to read, especially if you like time period pieces.

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "This is a true recounting of Margaret Powell's unemotional memories of her time in service as a kitchen maid and cook for the British upper class. This is the book that inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"."

m
MissEavis
May 27, 2013

Good book, a simple but entertaining accout of a much different and simple life ;-)

a
andrea_gregus
Mar 18, 2013

Really easy and quick read. Interesting to to read about the life of this woman. Really enjoyed it for a quick read.

o
ownedbydoxies
Oct 09, 2012

This is a straight-talking, hard-working woman who reminisces about her life in service to a wide variety of families in Britain before WWII. I laughed aloud several times at her descriptions of employers and herself. She was a smart woman, whose upbringing meant her opportunities in life were very limited, but she obviously made the best of things and worked her way into an extremely rewarding career in her later years, as a writer and television show consultant.

b
BucketsOfCool
Aug 02, 2012

Easy to read and super interesting!

c
cmwallsm
May 31, 2012

Witty telling of life in service in 1920s Britain. As fascinating as it is unimaginable. A great read for those who love Downton Abbey.

AuntJane Apr 27, 2012

This is an easy read book of Margaret Langley's life. Coming from a poverty stricken home in Hove, England, she took the only type of job she could get having completed school to the 8th grade and hating sewing. Her descriptions as scullery maid, and on-the-job learning and insights make for interesting reading. The historical how-tos are interesting too (sand and soap to scrub the floor, etc).

gracindaisy Apr 27, 2012

Memoir that inspired Downton Abbey & Upstairs, Downstairs - a woman enters domestic service at 14 as a kitchen maid, later a cook.

e
ErnieK
Apr 26, 2012

A life "in service" told in her own voice, it's a great read. Very frank and forthright, a great contribution to the writings of women about work and its value in society.

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