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The Maid's Tale (The Lives of Servants)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
ebook, 182 pages
Published (first published September 15th 2011)
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Jan 06, 2013 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't so much of an 'easy-read', as meeting a dear friend for a chat and a catch-up over coffee! I loved it!
With many of my ancestresses having been in domestic service during the same time-period as Rose, but no longer here to share their experiences, Rose's account of her life 'in service' opened a window on a new world - and opened my eyes on so many things that today we take for granted! I understand now why my Great Grandma was quoted as saying that she never wanted any of her ch
Jun 21, 2012 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and an easy read. I wish I could have met Rose, she's such an interesting person.
Clare O'Beara
Recounted by a woman living in comfort in an old people's home to a man wise enough to record her story and bring it to us, this is a strongly felt, vivid memoir. Rose started life in a smelly room in London's East End and saw women 'wasted on early marriage and too many children'; her mother was always tired and her father couldn't earn enough to keep them all.

Rose had to go into service aged fifteen as jobs were scarce for girls. She started as a maid of all work in a small house. From the fi
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Dec 03, 2012 Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum rated it really liked it
Rose Plummer was born in 1910, had a very poor upbringing and entered service as a maid at the age of fifteen. The Maid's Tale - Life Below Stairs As It Really Was is her own story of this time as told to Tom Quinn.

Rose isn't shy about including everything, the full extent of the poverty experienced in childhood, sharing a bed with her siblings, an outdoor toilet with her neighbours and petty theft to get by.

In adulthood she doesn't hold back from telling us about her flirting with soldiers in t
Mary Hart Perry
Jan 07, 2013 Mary Hart Perry rated it really liked it
Rose, the narrator, is such an honest and sympathetic person. It's so easy to see what it was like to be a maid during the time of Downton Abbey. Amazing how much has changed since then. I loved this book.
Feb 02, 2012 Jenna rated it liked it
Makes me look at Downton Abbey in a whole new light.
Dec 26, 2015 Kathee rated it it was amazing
This is a great first-hand account of a woman who worked as a domestic servant in the 1920's and 1930's. I always feel a little uncomfortable when people revere the past and view it as a gentler, kinder time. That may have been the case for some, but as this book reveals, the past had its share of violence, prejudice, injustice, and poverty. This book puts the past into perspective. The author also provides insight into the changing status and treatment of domestic servants (and the working clas ...more
Feb 09, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it
Rose is a wonderful storyteller with a remarkable memory for the past! Very interesting read...I learned a lot. I would have love to meet this woman. Critically, I have to say the ending of the book was flat, scattered in thought, and abrupt....if it wasn't for the page count reaching its end, I wouldn't have known it was over! I thought I must be missing some pages! Overall, an excellent read, so I am recommending this book!!! The East End will come alive for you!

Next, I'm reading Jack London's
Mar 25, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating read about the life of a domestic servant in London in the early 1900s. I never realised there was so much hierarchy and levels of class between household servants, as well as between servants from different classes of houses. Programs like Downton Abbey give the impression that servants are all equal and usually friends, but this was rarely so. The rules and regulations servants had to follow were also eye-opening. A quick, easy read... Highly recommended.
3.5 stars. A short book but very enlightening. Told by 90 something year old Rose Plummer who was raised in a slum in London and was forced to work at age 14 as a maid in a large understaffed house in pre WWII London for a number of years until she secretly married a footman and left the house. Life was hard and work was practically slavery. Very interesting!
Rania T
Feb 18, 2016 Rania T rated it really liked it
A quick and easy read about life in the domestic service in England in the 20's and 30's, and the strong social divisions that existed at that time. Rose Plummer's autobiography is an insight into a vanished world of butlers, cooks and maids.
Jul 30, 2012 Alisonismail rated it really liked it
Very well worth reading, very absorbing portait of life as a servant in pre first world war London. The thing I liked best about it is that it was not at all nostalgic and completely insightful about how class bound (even compared to now) society is now.
Apr 11, 2015 Cdee rated it it was ok
I love stories about upstairs downstairs, maids and history but thought this was quite slow going and didn't enjoy it overly.
Arun Lakshmanan
Jul 29, 2014 Arun Lakshmanan rated it it was amazing
Positive, brutal, authentic, and humorous..
E.H. Walter
Aug 11, 2013 E.H. Walter rated it it was amazing
A memoir written with real personality and full of interesting detail.
Apr 02, 2013 Mick rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, owned
A bit predictable, but a good book to read on a bus or so! Easy simple english.
Oct 02, 2016 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book, it was a real joy to read. I was sorry it had to end.
Ginni Brinkley
Sep 27, 2013 Ginni Brinkley rated it liked it
This book certainly doesn't paint a cosy picture of being a domestic servant in the early twentieth century. Interesting, quite sweary.
Tracey rated it did not like it
Sep 25, 2015
Kathryn Johnson
Kathryn Johnson rated it liked it
Jun 07, 2014
Angela Sumter
Angela Sumter rated it liked it
Feb 14, 2012
Ann-Marie rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2013
Anna rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2013
Jane Le
Jane Le rated it really liked it
Sep 03, 2013
Lori Whitley
Lori Whitley rated it it was amazing
Feb 03, 2016
Carol rated it liked it
Mar 24, 2014
Bryndis rated it really liked it
Jun 02, 2015
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May 04, 2017
Jo rated it really liked it
Mar 19, 2014
Bob Downton
Bob Downton rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2017
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“It was after our breakfast that I was told to go up along with the parlour maid and serve the family breakfast. I was very nervous, but the parlour maid told me not to worry. So up I went, shaking in my boots, and into the breakfast room where the sideboard was laden with kidneys and rice and bacon and all sorts of delicious things. There were just four people at the table: three elderly men and a woman with a green parrot on her shoulder. Now, the thing about the parrot was that it had messed all down her shoulder and all down the front of her dress and she wasn't in the least bothered. She just smiled into the distance and every now and then fed the bird something from her hand.” 0 likes
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