One Pair of Hands

One Pair of Hands

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by Monica Dickens DICKENS
     
 

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What does a young, well-off English woman do with herself when she's thrown out of acting school and is tired of being a debutante? Well, if you're Monica Dickens, you become a cook. She makes the plunge to a life "below the stairs," confident in her abilities to be a cook because she once took a course in French cuisine. She quickly learns the difference between

Overview

What does a young, well-off English woman do with herself when she's thrown out of acting school and is tired of being a debutante? Well, if you're Monica Dickens, you become a cook. She makes the plunge to a life "below the stairs," confident in her abilities to be a cook because she once took a course in French cuisine. She quickly learns the difference between school learning and real life. Scalded milk, dropped roasts, and fallen souffles plague her in her domestic career, but she perseveres. What makes this book so delightful is the sense of humor and drama Monica Dickens brings to her work. From dressing up for job interviews in a "supporting-a-widowed-mum look" to eavesdropping on dinner guests, she tackles her work with an enthusiasm for discovery. To her descriptions of battles with crazy scullery maids, abusive employers, and unwieldy custards, she brings a humorous and pointed commentary about the delicate and ongoing war between the wealthy and their servants. Written in 1939, this true-life experience reveals a writer who wasted no opportunity to explore daily lives and dramas. Her keen eye for detail, youthful resilience, and sense of the absurd make One Pair of Hands a deliciously inside look at the households of the British upper-class.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Riotously amusing as the book is in parts, Miss Dickens also manages to make it a social document." — The Times

"But over and above its gay adventurousness, its variety of keen-eyed and blithe-hearted experience and its implicit challenge to reflection, this book fascinates us too by its lively and unfamiliar detail." — New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780897333047
Publisher:
Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/28/2005
Pages:
220
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Great granddaughter to Charles Dickens, Monica Dickens (1915-1992) was born into an upper middle class family. Disillusioned with the world in which she was brought up, she acted out—she was expelled from St Paul's Girls' School in London for throwing her school uniform over Hammersmith Bridge. Dickens then decided to go into service, despite coming from the privileged class; her experiences as a cook and general servant would form the nucleus of her first book, One Pair Of Hands,  published in 1939. Dickens married an American Navy officer, Roy O. Stratton, and spent much of her adult life in Massachusetts and Washington D.C., but she continued to set the majority of her writing in Britain. No More Meadows, which she published in 1953, reflected her work with the NSPCC—she later helped to found the American Samaritans in Massachusetts. Between 1970 and 1971 she wrote a series of children's books known as The Worlds End Series which dealt with rescuing animals and, to some extent, children. After the death of her husband in 1985, Dickens returned to England where she continued to write until her death aged 77.

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One Pair of Hands 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here is a book that takes everyday duties and turns them in to an adventure. An Adventure you can't put down.You will read and re-read this book many times in you're life time. It brings out the feminine side of life as it was in the 30's.The richness of language is very distinctive. This book has a pink feel like pink linens or rose petels.This woman has beauty ,brains and sophistacation. This combo is very powerful and gutsie. If you can imagine having all the money you want but choosing to work.
D_MacGowan More than 1 year ago
I have read and re-read this book several times. It's a clever and well-written memoir of Dickens' life as a roving servant in 1930s England. Parts of it are quite funny and parts of it are quite poignant. Recommended.