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Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired
     

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

3.6 36
by Margaret Powell
 

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ISBN-10: 1250005442

ISBN-13: 9781250005441

Pub. Date: 01/03/2012

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250005441
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Series:
Below Stairs Series , #1
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will like this book if you like Downtown Abbey! But you will see that the staff at Downton have it good compared to reality!! I cannot imagine todays teenagers living this life! A rough life to earn a roof over your head and a bit of food! The first half of the book is written about her life when she was a teen in service so keep that in mind. It made me appreciate even more than usual how lucky I was that I did not have to go through such a tough teen and early twenty something life! I learned alot from this book about the service life and as I love antiques and the old days it was even more enjoyable for me!
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Margaret Powell's story of her time in service, first as a kitchen maid and then as a cook, brings to light the working conditions of the serving class in the early 1900s. Just as interesting is the attitude of "them" living upstairs in those great houses, the employers, their family members, and their friends. To think that just because a person was a servant that they couldn't read is so sad; to treat servants as less worthy of the basic comforts of life (food, shelter, kindness) is deplorable. As with many other reviewers, I have come down with Downton Abbey fever and am watching similar movies and reading books regarding about the servant class. Powell's book is a quick read; I enjoyed her wit but sometimes felt I was slogging through the details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written plainly and honestly, the autobio is well documented regarding the unromantic history of a young woman in the end of a class-based society. The truth in her writing shows the reality of the time: that being a maid that works herself up to cook isn't glamorous or hollywood but simply an unwanted life choice of survival in early 20th century england. The real deal.
Ann40AW More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this memoir of Ms. Powell. I always like reading stories of history of days gone by. And since I am a fan of Downton Abbey, I especially found this account of the servants downstairs interesting. It was what I found a delightful and interesting read. I liked it so much I awarded it 4****.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good, quick read. Just realize that it is more autobiographical, not really a story.
Canyon1200 More than 1 year ago
Powell was such a malcontent (read early UK reviews when book was first published) that it is hard to establish fact from hatred. I truly enjoyed her strange way of writing but toward the end liked her less and less. I am sure her work was no picnic but I am just as sure that "they" were not as evil as she was wont to describe "them". As she said, she probably would not have been happy in any work she did. I do recommend Below Stairs as a light and often, fun, read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing for fans of Downton Abbey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well written first hand account of domestic service during the time between the wars. Although short and a bit lacking in details, it is charming and honest. Well worth reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is whiney, self indulgent and boring. I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan and was so disappointed in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and engrossing book. A bit heartbreaking too. Definately recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Downton abbey fans should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok read. Nothing spectacular. To be honest I do regret buying it. Expensive book for only 166 pages. She tells about her experiences but seems to jump around a bit so gets a little confusing sometimes. And she spends a LOT of time comparing the then and now and gets a really annoying.
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Light and interesting read. Downton Abby fans won't be dissapointed.
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Entertaining easy readibg