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Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants
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Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  1,957 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
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 M
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 15th 2011 by Michael O Mara Publications
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Meg Marie Yes. There's a very brief part that discusses the upper class gentlemen trying to bed the maids, but it's a clean read overall.

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I have to say that I was quite looking forward to reading this book, as the second series of Downton Abbey begins on TV. I thought it would make an interesting and detailed companion to the show, unfortunately as I was reading I soon realised that it wasn't going to be as entertaining as first thought.

Rather than specific, detailed accounts from real people, the book is actually a broad view of the lives of servants in the Edwardian period. The true life accounts actually come in VERY small sni
DeLace Munger
Mar 04, 2013 DeLace Munger rated it really liked it
I think a more appropriate (but lengthier) title for this book should be "Lots of People Wrote About Their Lives as Servants and Nobles and Here's the Best Stories From Those Books So You Don't Have To Read Them".

This makes a great little source of extra information on servants in the Edwardian era for anyone who is curious (most likely Downton Abbey fans) or anyone who might happen to be an Anglophile. It was clear, concise and referenced many other works which allows the reader to do more rese
Shawn Thrasher
May 02, 2016 Shawn Thrasher rated it it was ok
A colleague once referred to a book as "report fodder" - the type of disposal book that elementary-aged students use to write reports about presidents, or animals, or countries. They are almost always library books, written methodically and in a similar manner, easy to digest, baled together like straw in great sets ("mammals" or "California missions").

This book is report fodder, for adults. Probably, particularly, for three types of adults: 1. Adults like me who like reading fiction and nonfic
The life of the servant class during the Victorian/Edwardian era. I found this book very informative about the lives of these people. I certainly have a lot of respect for them and the hard life they lived. The book breaks down each servant's position and responsibilities and where they lie on the hierarchy within their class.

Enjoyable but eye-opening! It makes me thankful for the time I was born into. I don't think I'd have made a very good maid. :)
Jul 31, 2012 katie rated it it was ok
Downton Abbey is so hott right now. The life of a British Earl, his family, and staff- utterly delightful. Through in his upper middle class cousin, yessir! I thoroughly enjoy reading about class roles in Victorian and Edwardian England but Life Below Stairs is not one of those reads. It is not as boring as other readers may it out to be but it definitely lacked in some areas. It is like the writer stops mid way through an idea. She gives these wonderful real life examples of servants but never ...more
May 08, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
I impulsively picked this up in my local library, as it was on the "Featured Titles" table. A slim, light read that I finished in two sittings, I suspect its publication is directly related to the commercial success of the Dowton Abbey television programme. Which I've been meaning to watch, but I find soap operas dull and not sure the handsome valets and Edwardian costumes will be enough to overcome that, but people assure me that it's worth a peek and so I do intend to watch it. Someday.

As ent
Feb 02, 2015 Daniela rated it liked it
This book has some very bad reviews and I can only partly understand why. Yes, it is a light read, but does that automatically make it a bad book? I don't think so.

In comparison with other books on this topic like Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" it definitely falls short, but overall I thought it was a nice introduction for people who don't yet know a lot about the lives of servants in the Edwardian era and who are looking
Apr 13, 2013 Hoyadaisy rated it did not like it
Absolutely lazy. Relies on long quotes from others and illustrations (which were often pointless or hard to make out) to fill up the narrow pages. Repeats itself with great regularity and contradicts itself occasionally. Reminds me of a lazy student doing a term paper. So clearly an attempt to cash in on "Downton Abbey." Even quotes people from the series as experts!
Lois Clark-Johnston
This was a light easy read. I'm fascinated by this time period. It is amazing the disconnect between Nobility and those who served them. I was surprised to find the gender based differences. Service was disproportionately female and young. Young women starting in service had to provide their own uniforms. So many had to work for 2 to 4 years prior to service just to earn the cost of their starting dresses. In addition they were paid considerably less and had horrible duties and long hours. The w ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction, uk, 2012
I have mixed feelings about this one. Basically, it's a decent overview of how large houses were run and how the servants lived during the Edwardian era. It was definitely broadly done; there's not a lot of depth to any of the subjects. I found some of the language and phrasing a bit confusing or distracting, but overall, it's a fairly good introduction to the subject if you're not expecting a great deal of detail. If you already have more than a passing familiarity, you might want to get someth ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Caitlin rated it it was ok
At the moment I’m really interested in the Edwardians, and even though I’ve fallen very much out of love with “Downton Abbey” I find the concept of the working class living so fully within the world of the incredibly privileged quite fascinating.

The book was certainly easy reading – I was able to polish it off in a few hours, and I’m not really a speed-reader. The book incorporated stories from the servants, and focused on the Edwardian era, when the trend of owning servants was very much on th
Feb 28, 2013 Lori rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Every since Downton Abbey I have been interested in reading about what it is like for servants and staff who are "below stairs" this book mainly focuses on life for servants during the "Edwardian" time. which is the very late 1890s and early 1900s. the staff in one of these "big houses"can count on very long hours. especially for the scullery kitchen help and the maid who in on the lowest rung of pecking order. this was before modern conveniences so just about every thing had to be done by hand. ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
They say that if you copy from just one source, it's plagiarism. If you copy from a bunch of sources, it's research. Well I guess this is research, then.

When I read the title and jacket I somehow got the erroneous impression that this book presented the real lives of a few servants--like, you know, social anthropology case histories. I was so disappointed. The blurb talks about a "gripping, detailed" account. It is neither. The authoress is content with quoting from other people's printed books
Feb 11, 2014 Liisa rated it it was ok
What is this book missing?

An editor to focus on grammar. I know this is petty, but I expect an author or editor to understand when -- and when not -- to use a comma.

Illustrations. Endless descriptions of various servants' uniforms are so much easier (and more interesting) to follow with pictures.

Primary research. I felt like much of this book was the author's regurgitation of other surveys of Edwardian and Victorian service life. I realize there aren't any former servants from this time period a
Connie Fischer
Jan 28, 2015 Connie Fischer rated it it was amazing
When Downton Abbey came on the scene, many readers started reading even more novels that take place in the Edwardian time period. I enjoy reading non-fiction about the different historical romance time periods and, thus, was drawn to this book.

The book discusses the different staff members and their hierarchy among the other servants. It details their dress, pay, rules, and job responsibilities. In addition, we learn about their living and working conditions and their constant work schedule thro
Jan 01, 2016 Graceann rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This is a very basic overview of what life was like for those "in service" in the manor houses during the Edwardian period. Accent on the word "overview." There is nothing in-depth here. It's perfect for those who loved Downton Abbey (and, before that, Upstairs, Downstairs) and would like to know how the shows and real life differ. It also helps if you haven't read any other, more encyclopedic, references.

Life Below Stairs is very short, so if one is in a hurry to learn these things, it's good
Oct 20, 2013 Mfbirkett rated it it was amazing

With all of the interest in Downton Abbey, this is a perfect book to enhance one's understanding of life in Edwardian times. Having been a fan of "Upstairs, Downstairs" in the 1970's I had an appreciation for those who gave their lives in service to the English upper class, but this details each position on staffs of the privileged from the laundresses to butlers. Service work was a way for young men and women to rise above their lower class backgrounds, often making it possible for them to have
Feb 25, 2013 Tracey rated it liked it
Unlike the Downton Abbey fans, I think I picked this up via the Indiana Digital Media consortium after reading several novels set in Edwardian/Victorian times & I wanted to get a look at the servant experience. It's a bit lightweight (less than 200 pages) and the reading level seemed pitched at maybe high school level.

The book is well-researched, but was much more general than its subtitle suggested, more an overview of servant life with occasional rememberances and tidbits thrown in than a
Jun 18, 2013 Anastacia rated it it was amazing
For fans of Upstairs, Downstairs & Downtown Abbey (ME!), comes Life Below Stairs. It's a fabulous, fascinating look at the true lives of servants who served the rich and fabulously wealthy.

It's definitely written towards fans of the two mentioned series - it's a rather light look, doesn't get into a lot of details, and doesn't hit upon any of the negative aspects of being a servant - like 80 hour work weeks for no pay or sleep or freedom. Anyone who really knows the time period well, or the
Oct 10, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
A great read for anyone who's as fascinated as I am with BBC series like The Grand, The Duchess of Duke Street, Berkeley Square, and Downton Abbey. I haven't gotten into Upstairs Downstairs yet, but I bet I would love it too.

This book is an easy eBook read offered from LFPL that delves into the lives of the servants in grand and middle class homes, especially detailed about the Edwardian era. I really, really liked it! It's a great companion read to those great BBC series involving servants.
I think one of the best things that comes out of my liking period dramas is my quest for knowledge about that particular time period. This was yet another book riding the wave of my (and others') Downton Abbey craze. But I really enjoyed this look at what servants' lives were like. Taken from personal accounts as well as guides, I was intrigued to learn how various household tasks were done and by whom and when and more. It's not a compelling read. Just one for those who would like to know a bit ...more
Davina Mcfarland
Aug 02, 2014 Davina Mcfarland rated it it was ok
So this is from someone else's review but it' pretty much sums up my thoughts on this book : " I think a more appropriate (but lengthier) title for this book should be "Lots of People Wrote About Their Lives as Servants and Nobles and Here's the Best Stories From Those Books So You Don't Have To Read Them".

Jan 21, 2013 Lori rated it it was ok
My fault... I thought it would be more of a story. I thought it was slow and not what I expected. I felt that I was watching the staff get their work schedules and job description's explained to each person.
On the other hand, it gives you an insight as to how the house staff lived their lives. So many different layers of jobs that I had never given any thought to before reading this.
Beth Gordon
Jan 04, 2013 Beth Gordon rated it liked it
If you've watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey, there's nothing earthshaking in this book. It's a very general book; when there is something specific, it's from one of a handful of sources. It was a very quick read and did synthesize a bit of the downstairs culture that you observe when watching Downton Abbey or something similar.
Dec 19, 2015 Andie rated it liked it
This is a thin little book that, if a servant class still existed, would be a great manual for how to hire, house, train, pay and discipline one's servants. A great companion for people addicted to BBC TV shows like Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey.
Brian Eshleman
Nov 09, 2016 Brian Eshleman rated it liked it
There wasn't much ambience to it. In my judgment it didn't really enter into the Edwardian world, offering more like a guided tour complete with a businesslike guide giving out factoids, including recipes, yes recipes. Informative, yes. Magic, no.
Rupert Alistair
Jul 27, 2016 Rupert Alistair rated it liked it
Interesting insight to the lives of servants during the Edwardian period of Britain. Fans of Downton Abbey should enjoy it. Strictly a facts and figures narrative; no storyline or characters.
Rita Galchus
Feb 02, 2015 Rita Galchus rated it it was amazing
I am a big Downton Abbey fan so how could I not love this book?
Mar 07, 2016 Tanya rated it liked it
Very informative of the time! Interesting facts are presented throughout the book. Easy to visualize!
Nov 04, 2014 Rae rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
An interesting read but read kind of like a school report. It was repetitive at times and paced strangely. The ending was very abrupt.
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Mansfield Public ...: Life Below Stairs Review by Pat Cornell 1 2 Aug 09, 2013 08:02AM  
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Alison Maloney is a journalist and author whose books include The Moms' Book and Things to Do with Mom.
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“The servant who takes an interest in her work seems no longer to exist, and in return for high wages we get but superficial service,’ bemoaned one editorial. ‘Where is the maid to be found who takes pride in the brilliance of the glass to be used on the table or remembers of her own initiative to darn the damask? Every sort of contrivance now lessens labour – carpet sweepers, knife machines, bathrooms, lifts – in spite of these the life of a housewife is one long wrestle and failure to establish order.” 0 likes
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