Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance
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Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  427 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Margaret Powell's Below Stairs, a servant's firsthand account of life in the great houses of England,became a sensation among readers revelling in the luxury andsubtle class warfareofMasterpiece Theatre's hit television seriesDownton Abbey.In Servants' Hall,another true slice of life froma time when armies of servants lived below stairs simply to support the lives of those...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1979)
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I am a fan of the TV show "Downton Abbey" so very interested in reading books from authors who actually worked downstairs for the big houses.Margaret Powell has written several books about the years she worked as a kitchen girl and then worked up to cook. this book she is an assistant cook in a big house in the 1920s. she writes some of the families she has worked for but mainly about herself and the staff she works with.
This book focuses on herself, and a couple of the staff members. one in...more
The title of this book is A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance it is rather misleading. The story is told by Margaret, the kitchen maid who becomes a cook. The story is mainly about her, Margaret with the story about Rose, the under maid being rather a sub plot.

The book was OK, my copy was 183 pages long, but the story could have been told in probably 80 pages. And I mean the whole story, not just the part of the story that deals with Rose. Margaret only works at the home with Rose for abou...more
Margaret Powell relates more incidents from her time in service. When the son of one of her employers runs off with a maid it causes a big to-do both upstairs and down. The master and upper servants are furious at this breaching of class distinctions while Margaret and the younger servants think it's a fairy take come true. Margaret would have jumped at the chance to become a real lady but Rose stubbornly clings to her working class roots, parroting her mother's evangelical religious beliefs and...more
I picked up this book because it was similar in nature to the TV show/series Downton Abbey which I thoroughly enjoy. However, this book wasn't as enjoyable and was more like a Diary of the author's time while in "service". It was all about how she moved around in "service", what the personalities of the other's "downstairs" were like and how the female servants tried to get out of service by getting married in various ways. I guess I just would rather have a well written story than a biography w...more
Apr 11, 2014 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Downton Abbey fans
Well. I haven't read her earlier memoir, Below Stairs, yet... and after reading this I'd still like to do so. So that says something.

I didn't love the author all the time; however, her voice and the fairly reasonable way she looked at situations kept me interested. It made me feel like Downton Abbey is doing a pretty good job showing the life of domestic servants in the '20s, including the squabbles over hierarchy and personal dignity (they are doing this particularly well with Mr. Molesley) and...more
As someone who enjoys Downton Abbey, I was drawn to this book about life "downstairs" where the servants work and live. Margaret Powell provides us a first-hand account of what it was like to work for the wealthy families who ruled England. Her style is witty, detailed, and poignant. A good glimpse into careers and lifestyles of both England's servers and the served.
Darlene Ferland
I am a fan of Upstairs/Downstairs and Downton Abbey so naturally I can now add Margaret Powell's work. Her characters were easy to understand. Their emotions were quirky, depending on their status in the House. It's a good book for anyone interested in the two previously mentioned shows.
Not much of a romance...haha!

This was a good read. Learned more about Margaret Powell's life in service and the friends she met along the way. Some stories are repeated from Below Stairs, but not too much.
Kelsey Dangelo
I bought this book on a trip to the Newport mansions, and as I’m fascinated by the Gilded Age (and a fan of Downton Abbey), I couldn’t put it down. The memoirs of a domestic servant in the period between the wars in England, mostly featuring the story of a fellow kitchen maid who married “above stairs”, the son of the “Sir and Madam”, as well as her own journey towards matrimony and the escape from service. Powell’s voice is lively, engaging, feisty, and incredibly intelligent and perceptive. A...more
Cindy Williams
Dry & not much of a story - moral is don't marry above your station. Only reason this came out was popularity of Downton Abbey.
This was terribly slow. I fouind myself about 2/3 through, skipped to the last chapter, read that and closed the book for good.
Victoria Moore
"Servants' Hall" a memoir about working "in service" by Margaret Powell has all of the drama, wit and historical relevance that continues to make me a fan of the genre. Set in England, and delightfully reminiscent of the PBS Masterpiece shows "Upstairs, Downstairs," "Downton Abbey," and "Wooster and Jeeves" it's a wonderful glimpse into the life of a servant. Powell, predominately a kitchen maid and a cook throughout the book, provides the full story of Rose, a maid who marries upstairs and out...more
Enjoyable enough, but rather meandering.

The romance between Sir Gerald and the parlormaid Rose, as mentioned in the subtitle, is actually take care of in the first quarter of the book. Sir Gerald and his bride are immediately disowned by his imperious father, but Gerald ends up making piles of cash anyway (how is not explained). But alas, it ends up being a Bad Romance for Rose is as dim and stubborn as she is pretty and Gerald learns that Looks Are Not Everything.

The rest of the book is a chatt...more
A great companion to Powell's previous autobiography concerning her life in service during the early decades of the twentieth century. I loved her telling of the story of Rose, the maid who married one of 'Them', the people above stairs, Gerald. Powell didn't pull her punches, and there was no happy ending, but as she says, life isn't a fairytale.

A great read.
Jul 22, 2014 Cyd added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
didn't finish it - ran out of time. not high literature, but a nice peek at life "downstairs." also makes me happy for my current lot in life; i can only imagine where i'd be on the ladder in early 20th century England.
Dry. Boring at times but interesting enough to keep me reading. Misleading title. Mostly enjoyed the descriptions of the menus. An interesting account of fashions, living arrangements and vernacular in 1920s England.
I always enjoy Margaret Powell's very matter-of-fact way of presenting life in service. This memoir was fun and interesting, though ended rather abruptly. She spent the majority of the book referencing her desire to find a mate, yet her actual marriage came in the last four pages and was very sparse. I'm not looking for a a grand romance, but it did feel disjointed. That being said, it was still a good read. I'm glad I started with Below Stairs and I'd recommend that before reading Servant's Hal...more
Oh my goodness, I love DOWNTON ABBEY, but this book bored me to tears. The writing was so incredibly dry and what should have been a great storyline couldn't maintain my interest. Now I must admit that I have not read the author's first book Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"and reviewers that had read that book gave this book a higher rating.
Loved this quickly-read memoir by the author of below stairs, the memoir that inspired upstairs, downstairs and , later, downton abbey. Powell writes from her memory and heart, the central emphasis on an unlikely pairing of a parlor maid and son of the house, but every page reflects her acceptance of her role as cook and the pride of service.
This was not as quick a read as her first book (Below Stairs) but I still enjoyed it a lot.
Margaret Sankey
Powell went into service in 1922, at the tail end of the era of Great Houses, and this is a first hand (albeit written in 1982, when she was elderly and had a very clear sense of how things had changed)view of the work of house servants in the wake of changing technology (gas stove vs coal for Edwardian multi-course meals), class boundaries (maid Rose elopes with the son of the house and this doesn't end well) and the gradual liberation of women in the 1920s. I am adding this to the primary sour...more
This author wrote several books about her life "below the stairs" and her time serving the upper class. She is the one that inspired the tv show "Downton Abbey". Even though I haven't jumped on board with this show, I was curious what brought on this phenomenon. This book is not the actual memoir (I'm still on the wait list at the library for it), but I saw this one on the new release table and thought I'd give it a try. She just shares stories about her friends and working with different people...more
Unfortunately, this book did not have that magic that the author's other book - Below Stairs - did. Hence, I read a good bit of it before calling it quits.

I couldn't decide if this was really a non-fiction account of an event the author witnessed as it had quite a bit of dialogue and read like a fictional story. It wasn't all the telling about the upstairs/downstairs situations and conditions as the first book was. Maybe that's what I was expecting and didn't get.

Well, at least the first book k...more
A first hand look at service in England and also a love story.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Terri Tinkel
I read the second book by Margaret Powell who worked "in service" at some of the big homes during the 1900's. She is said to be the inspiration for the DOWNTON ABBEY and UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS television series. I enjoyed this collections of behind the scenes stories, particularly about one of the maids who married the son of a wealthy family. She actually wasn't as happy as she thought she would be. She was never accepted by the "master" of the big house even after she had his grandchild. However...more
it was better than the first book
Jan Polep
This 1979 companion piece to "Below Stairs" by the same author, which I read last year, dishes dirt about the personal relationships of staff in small to middlin' homes of the upper middle class Brits. Subtitle could be "Looking for love (over and over) in all the wrong places" while trying to hang onto dreary jobs that paid little/no pension plans, while at the same time planning an exit strategy of marriage with the promise of a "two upper, one down" full of kids and the cost of raising them o...more
Easy read, but I kind of feel like the title/selling point is misleading. The whole point is that the romance didn't turn out the way one might be inclined to think. Also, it was really just part two of Margaret's memoir, which is fine, because it was interesting, but again, the romance wasn't the main focus of the book, which I feel like was misleading. That's not to say I didn't like it, because I did and it held my interest, I just feel like what I thought I was going to be reading isn't what...more
Meh. The title's is a bit misleading; this book is mostly a ramble through "downstairs life" in England between WWI and WWII. Not much of a story thread. Mostly blah with a occasional funny paragraph. While the author goes into detail about all the guys she dated and the failed marriage of one of the Downstairs Girls who married out of her "station," she barely mentions her own marriage at the very end of the book. Could have been better.
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Margaret Powell (1907 – 1984) was an English writer. Her book about her experiences in domestic service, Below Stairs, became a best-seller and she went on to write other books and became a television personality. Below Stairs was an impetus for Upstairs, Downstairs and the basis of Beryl's Lot, and is one of the inspirations of Downton Abbey. wikipedia
More about Margaret Powell...
Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" Climbing the Stairs Margaret Powell's Cookery Book: 500 Upstairs Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Downstairs Kitchen Maid and Cook The Treasure Upstairs My Mother and I

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