Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell (book review)

I so want to read more books this year than last year and I'm making headway on that (helps I was sick the past few days and made it halfway through one book and today I made it a quarter way through another). Anyway, I like to mix up my book likes with fiction, nonfiction, Christian disciplines, etc.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell was the inspiration behind Downton Abbey. If you haven't seen this show, check it out. It's on its third season on PBS; I can't wait for this season to be over so I can watch it on Netflix. Yes, first world problem.

Below Stairs is a memoir of a really lower-class gal, Margaret, who became a kitchen maid and then eventually a cook. She details her life at different houses she worked for. I know that sometimes people still look down upon those of a lesser economic status but it's nothing compared to those times! The help was seen as almost subhuman; it's crazy. Downton Abbey almost romanticizes the staff and even some parts of their lives, but Below Stairs does not.

She talks about the hard work they had to do, their long hours, their awful pay. Even how Christmas was no fun because they had to be so thankful to work for their employers - even if the employers were awful. I'm glad she does talk about working in some houses where the employers saw their employees as human and wanted them to be happy so provided a nice home and decent pay.

The back of the book said this was part one of her memoirs but I don't think the others got published. It would have been interesting to read more about her children after she got married. But very good, simple read if you're looking to know more about that time period (1920-ish).

Disclaimer: I read this book on my own. Opinions are my own.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I'd LOVE to read that. And not all employers were bad. The Vanderbilts of Biltmore were wonderful to their staff.

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