Some of My Favorite Books

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

I'd read about Below Stairs
somewhere and when I saw it at the library, I checked it out. The cover reads "Below Stairs, The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey."

This book was written in 1968 by an honest-to-goodness maid who worked during the time when Downton Abbey is now set--1920--and beyond. She was just 13 when she started working since she'd learned all she could in school without going on to upper level classes that her family didn't have money for. 

This book details her jobs in the many houses where she worked, first as a kitchen maid (the lowest ranking servant) then as a cook. Her goal was to get married and not have to work. Men were the breadwinners back then and women stayed home to keep house and take care of the children.

I liked a passage where she sums up how hard it was to meet eligible men to pursue as husbands. She had visited a small village where a friend was from, where everyone knew each other and had no trouble meeting men.

"I live in a town, and I couldn't even tell you the names of the people that live two or three doors up the road. Nobody speaks to anybody and it's considered the greatest compliment if you're known as a person who keeps herself to herself. But this kind of attitude doesn't help herself to get herself a himself, does it?"

The details of the very hard life and hard work that these servants lived come to life in this straightforward memoir. I have a new appreciation for poor Daisy now! 

Book Read: Below Stairs
Author:  Margaret Powell
ISBN:  978-1-250-00544-1

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