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Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  861 Ratings  ·  114 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 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 ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1979)
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Lisa
Apr 02, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
QNPoohBear
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
Lori
Jul 26, 2013 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, historical
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
Julie
Jan 14, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, biography, history
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
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.
Dawn Livingston
I got this book because based on the summary it sounded like a romance novel, but it's not, it's non fiction, stories bases on someone actual experiences. So that was a let down from the start. Then the real issue is that the summary talks about a maid named Rose that marries the son (Gerald) of her wealthy employers. Of course I thought that was the focus of the story, but it wasn't. The main character is actually a servant named Margaret, she's the one that tells the story, it's her point of v ...more
Paula
Feb 12, 2015 Paula rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
From the blurb about this book, one would think it was the story of Rose's life, first as a maid and then her "move upstairs" when she married the son of the house. But that's very misleading. In reality it's the story of another "downstairs" person who tells the reader a very little of Rose's story while she telling you about herself and another friend. I found the story to be a bit dry and it wasn't what I expected it to be at all.
Eugenia
Feb 25, 2016 Eugenia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is like gossiping with a friend-it waivers between interesting and tiring. I really did enjoy reading about details of day to day life of servants, but toward the end of the book it began to get repetitive and boring. The author is pretty funny and she addresses subjects like sex and having babies with candor you don't expect from a person of her generation. Overall, it's an easy and fun book to read, especially if you like time period pieces.
Sandy
May 11, 2013 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2013 Darlene Ferland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Patricia
Mar 09, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this second memoir of Margaret Powell's time in service as much as her first - Below Stairs. I wish the library had more of her books - I'm going to buy a few used ones online to continue reading her story. I like her feistiness!
Katherine
Feb 16, 2013 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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.
Renee
This was terribly slow. I fouind myself about 2/3 through, skipped to the last chapter, read that and closed the book for good.
Lola
Feb 12, 2017 Lola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey".
Stories of working in different households for the wealthy in England beginning with
1922 as maids and cooks.
Rose runs away with the wealthy master's son & they get married. Consequently,
the son is disowned by his father. Rose goes from being a maid to a "lady". Surprisingly,
she is very lonely and unhappy in her new role in life, is not really accepted by other
wealthy people, and doesn't fit in.
Margaret Powell, the author, is the main charac
...more
Jennifer
Her first book was better, this one rambled a bit and had a very obvious "old woman reminiscing" tone. But still an interesting look into that period of time.
Joe
Nov 16, 2016 Joe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Too much whining for me!
Victoria Moore
Dec 01, 2013 Victoria Moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Julie
Apr 11, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  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
Ladysatel
Jan 25, 2016 Ladysatel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the introduction the author states that this is a true story. However, she waited until only two people witness to the tale were left alive, herself and her good friend Margaret. Therefore her frankness in describing the people involved is refreshing.

The author Margaret Powell writes non-sentimentally about her time in service as a kitchen maid, then later as a cook.

She worken in houses where the servants were valued members of the household and in those who treated their pets better than the
...more
Elderberrywine
Jun 19, 2013 Elderberrywine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
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
Abby Johnson
This book was a great pick for our family book club since we are all Downton Abbey fans. This memoir of a cook who worked in service in the 1920s reads very much like a season of Downton Abbey. Margaret Powell discusses not only her own work as a cook, but the work and relationships of girls she was friends with, including Rose who married the son in one of the houses and became the head of her own big house.

The beginning of this book really grabbed my attention, dealing with the staff of the h
...more
Naomi
Mar 22, 2013 Naomi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kelsey Dangelo
Apr 19, 2014 Kelsey Dangelo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah
Dec 22, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Molly
Sep 22, 2013 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is probably for fans of Downton Abbey or Gosford Park, but it reads a bit like you've asked your great-aunt to tell you a story about someone particular on the family tree and ended up with many detours, details, and pronouncements on life along the way. You do get the complete story you wanted to hear but fun asides as well - liked the way she informed her employer oh yes i have read Tolstoy - and the asides about young people these days even as she knows she's saying something a bit ...more
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
Laura
Apr 17, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jay
Sep 23, 2013 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
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
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
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1070392
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.
More about Margaret Powell...

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