Friday, April 29, 2016

The Tip of My Wish List - The Below Stairs Life

To change things up this year, I've decided to do a monthly post on 5 books from my insane wish list that I am most excited about getting to. Some might be new, some old and some out of wish list has it all! I'll pick a theme each month and share my wish list post on the last Friday of the month. I know a number of excellent reviewers who will be doing similar posts and I'll be sure to link to their posts as well so you can see all the goodies we're excited about and, hopefully, add a few new book to your own wish list. 

For April I've decided to highlight books - fiction and nonfiction - that show what it's like to work "below stairs" as a servant. Now that Downton Abbey is over I'm really craving this sort of story.  I'll link the titles to Goodreads where you can read reviews and find the various ways to purchase a copy if it sounds like your style. I really hope you enjoy and let me know if you've read any of these or have others you would add to the list.

Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance

Margaret Powell's Below Stairs, a servant's firsthand account of life in the great houses of England, became a sensation among readers reveling in the luxury and subtle class warfare of Masterpiece Theatre's hit television series Downton Abbey. In Servants' Hall, another true slice of life from a time when armies of servants lived below stairs simply to support the lives of those above, Powell tells the true story of Rose, the under-parlourmaid to the Wardham Family at Redlands, who took a shocking step: She eloped with the family's only son, Mr. Gerald.

Going from rags to riches, Rose finds herself caught up in a maelstrom of gossip, incredulity and envy among her fellow servants. The reaction from upstairs was no better: Mr. Wardham, the master of the house, disdained the match so completely that he refused ever to have contact with the young couple again. Gerald and Rose marry, leave Redlands and Powell looks on with envy, even as the marriage hits on bumpy times: "To us in the servants' hall, it was just like a fairy tale . . . How I wished I was in her shoes."

Once again bringing that lost world to life, Margaret Powell trains her pen and her gimlet eye on her "betters" in this next chapter from a life spent in service. Servants' Hall is Margaret Powell at her best—a warm, funny and sometimes hilarious memoir of life at a time when wealthy families like ruled England.


Maid to Match

From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled—by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in the ways of refined society, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs...and their hearts.

Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants

Last year, the telly-watching public was gripped by Downton Abbey -- the most successful British period drama in years and the number -- one most-watched new drama programme of 2010. Captivated by the secrets, the scandal and the servant-master divide of an Edwardian household, viewers religiously watched in their millions.

In Life Below Stairs, bestselling author Alison Maloney responds to the public's desire to know more, going behind the scenes to reveal a detailed picture of what really went on 'downstairs', describing the true-life trials and tribulations of the servants in a gripping non-fiction account.

Thoroughly researched and reliably informed, it also contains first-hand stories from the staff of the time. This charming and
beautifully presented volume is a must-read for anyone interested in the lifestyle and conduct of a bygone era.

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor

In 1928, Rosina Harrison arrived at the illustrious household of the Astor family to take up her new position as personal maid to the infamously temperamental Lady Nancy Astor, who sat in Parliament, entertained royalty, and traveled the world. "She's not a lady as you would understand a lady" was the butler's ominous warning. But what no one expected was that the iron-willed Lady Astor was about to meet her match in the no-nonsense, whip-smart girl from the country.

For 35 years, from the parties thrown for royalty and trips across the globe, to the air raids during WWII, Rose was by Lady Astor's side and behind the scenes, keeping everything running smoothly. In charge of everything from the clothes and furs to the baggage to the priceless diamond "sparklers," Rose was closer to Lady Astor than anyone else. In her decades of service she received one 5 raise, but she traveled the world in style and retired with a lifetime's worth of stories. Like Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, Rose is a captivating insight into the great wealth 'upstairs' and the endless work 'downstairs', but it is also the story of an unlikely decades-long friendship that grew between Her Ladyship and her spirited Yorkshire maid.

The Maid's Tale: A Revealing Memoir of Life Below Stairs

Born in 1910, Rose Plummer grew up in an East End slum; she knew at first hand a soot-blackened world, lit by candles and oil lamps, where you slept in your clothes - if you hadn't already been sewn into them for the winter - and fought an unending battle with hunger and bed bugs.
At its best, life was lived on the bustling, noisy streets where fish sellers jostled with hurdy-gurdy men, organ grinders and street fighters, where children dodged between the wheels of horse-drawn carts and where money could still be made by mudlarks and the rag and bone man.

At the age of fifteen, Rose left the noise and squalor of Hoxton and started work as a live-in maid at a house in the West End. Despite the poverty of her childhood, nothing could have prepared her for the long hours, the backbreaking work and the harshness of this new world; a world in which servants were treated as if they were less than human.

It was a world in which Rose found herself working from six in the morning till nine at night in a house where the only unheated bedroom was the one she slept in. Here and in later, grander, houses Rose had to endure the strict hierarchy of the servants' world where the maid was expected to put up with sex pests, deranged employers, verbal and even physical abuse. But however difficult life became, Rose found something to laugh about, and her remarkable spirit and gift for friendship shines through in her memories of a now-vanished world.

This is upstairs downstairs as it really was.

Part of the Lives of Servants series. Other titles in the series are: The Cook's Tale, They Also Serve and Cocoa at Midnight.
Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list:

Stephanie at Layered Pages shares five Sherlock Holmes themed books on her wish list HERE.

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede also has a Sherlock Holmes theme this month (great minds think alike!). Find her picks HERE.

Erin at Flashlight Commentary shares five books featuring covers with non-romaticized men HERE.

Heather at The Maiden's Court shares five novels with female spies from WWII HERE.

Holly at 2 Kids and Tired has five books about celebrities HERE.


No comments:

Post a Comment