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The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago
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The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  278 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Fans of Julian Fellowes' hit show can step back 100 years to the world of the pampered, privileged upper classes and take a look at exactly what goes on behind the magisterial doors of their favorite stately home Using the characters and setting of the popular television show as a point of reference for the reader, this is a closer look at the Edwardian period. They were t ...more
ebook, 267 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by John Blake (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 904)
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Rebecca Huston
I really wanted to like this one, but unfortunately, the author's style and comments really turned me off of the book in the long run. He's snide about the upper class -- he refers to them constantly as Toffs throughout, and regards them as parasites. The lower classes aren't too well regarded, pretty much being too terrified to really do anything to improve their lot. There are far better books that tie into Downton Abbey out there, but this is not one of them. Overall, a not recommended and ju ...more
Chele Lee
great guide for those that want to go into domestic service in the early 1900's
This was a sorry excuse for a book. The writing was horridly disjointed, like the editing process was skipped completely. Such a shame, as the info was quite interesting...which is the only reason it gets 2 stars, instead of one. It read like the notes were put on index cards (senior term papers, anyone?), thrown in the air, and then added to the book as they randomly fell.
Meredith Allard
As I’m continuing my quest of reading books inspired by Downton Abbey, I found my way to The Real Life Downton Abbey by Jacky Hyams. The Real Life Downton Abbey is a good summary of what life was like for the British upper and lower classes during the time of the beloved television show (early 20th century), and, as you might expect in a book with this title, Hyams uses Downton Abbey as a springboard, often referencing the show as she illustrates the lifestyle at the time. She talks about the Ti ...more
It does seem that these days you need to throw in the words “English Manor” or “Downton Abbey” if you want to sell a book or video. The hit PBS series Downton Abbey has done so much to promote interest in another time and era just like Upstairs Downstairs did in the 1970’s. Many viewers are suddenly interested in reading about and watching the English manor life of the early 1900’s. This book, The Real Life Downton Abbey, tries to tell you how life really was for both the upstairs and downstairs ...more
I am a big fan of the, Downton Abbey. I have been interested in reading about real life below stair servants and staff ever since. This book gives a lot of good information about the lives of staff during the Edwardian era. which is the very late 1800s to around the start of World War One. It also gives information about the rich aristocratic families who owned these Stately homes. I liked how they started with the lowest position and worked up to the butler and head housekeeper and desc ...more
If you ever wondered how a socialist looks at the era when there were still great estates look no further. Jacky Hyams can't conceal the disdain for the estate owners; toffs in the author's vernacular.

I would agree that the servants did work very hard, but so did every one else in the working class. While going into service may not seem like a fun job I would say it is better than coal mining or working in a factory.

The factual parts of the book were fascinating but the endless snark and disda
I always mean to read more of these kinds of books, the books that tell me what it was really like in the historical periods I like to watch and read fictionalized versions. And yet . . . I don't feel like this one really taught me anything new. (Though, granted, I guess it might have if I hadn't already read The World of Downton Abbey and Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" this year.)

It was also written with too modern a view
If you enjoy(ed) the Downton Abbey PBS television series, you will enjoy a behind the scenes look at how the masters, mistresses, children and servants lived in real English manors and estates. It's not an easy read as you learn about the very long days of the servants, the inequality between male and female servants, the caste system amongst servants (the "uppers" and the "lowers"), and how many masters never learned the names of the "lowers". Servants were expected to not be seen nor heard, no ...more
Finally finished this book. It's not a difficult read by any means but lately I have only been reading during my daily commute. Even then I could have finished earlier but reading it in this fashion made me lose interest after a while. I guess what I'm saying is you might enjoy this book more than I did if you simply sit and read it rather than nibbling at it like a carp.

Anyway, it's a fun read filled with lots of fun facts and vignettes. I really liked it when Hyams would specifically point ou
We know that the "reel" world of Downton Abbey is nothing like the real world was at that time. The show gives us some glimpses into trials and tribulations like the dangers of childbirth and the illnesses that swept through areas but this book by Jacky Hyams takes us further behind the green baize door.

It's true on either side, the toffs have their own hassles and problems in life. But it's the servants who really do the heavy lifting and often have little to show for it. Hyams examines all asp
Christy Reed
As a fan of the series, I was instantly intrigued when I saw this book. It was very interesting and very informative, giving a wealth of information on what life was like at that time. If you enjoy the drama series, or are a fan of history, I suggest checking it out.
Michele Hurtubise

I enjoy relevant history and found this book both intriguing and educational. After all, it was not too long ago when this way if life was prevalent in England. This book makes me want to catch up on episodes of Downton Abbey.
This book contains tidbits of historical information so generalized that -- realistically speaking -- they can only be somewhat accurate. The writing is so colloquial as to be laughable. Perfect mindless before-bed reading for Downton Fans! ;-)
I thought this novel would give me more information about the Masterpiece Theatre series, a more in depth analysis of the characters and plot of the previous seasons. It is an indepth look at how life was during the era, looking at it from the perspective of the royalty vs. servants, as it's title implies. Chapters are designed from these two perspectives, i.e. what did the servants eat vs. royalty, medical care, uniforms,etc. It was interesting and seemed well researched. I will look at the nex ...more
Oct 20, 2014 Mary rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: gift of Julie
An interesting, if biased, account. Journalist Jacky Hyams assembled this book in a rush-to-press manner, it seems to me. Much material is repeated to pad the slim volume.

Hyams is highly contemptuous of the upper class country estate "toffs", deriding their extremely luxurious lifestyle. Admittedly the economic divide between the "haves" and the poor majority of the country is vast, as it is today in American society. World War I, industrialization and David Lloyd George put paid to the lavish
May 27, 2014 SJ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eh-maybe
Picked this up for 50 pence...why not for that price?
very snarky, no sources for most facts offered.
Somewhat interesting explanations about the customs and social scene around the turn of the century. Not as good as watching the original historical drama, but has some interesting facts.
This really was just okay nothing outstanding or notable.
This book was ok to me. It seems pretty thorough in going through each character on the show Downton Abbey, providing the actual details of the average person in that lifestyle during that time period. It compares the television character's life to actual, specific people of that time period. I did learn alot but at times it lacked cohesion and just seemed like a list. Perhaps that was because I have an emotional attachment to the characters on the show as I am a fan. I do recommend this book th ...more
Entertaining and intriguing; but mediocre writing and lack of sources unfortunately prevents me from rewarding a better rating than three out of five. Yet, an interesting and quick read if you are curious about the Edwardian period.
Disappointed. The author has a thinly veiled (or not at all) dislike for the aristocracy, she continually calls them "toffs" and disregards any and all positives. I only got to chapter 4 and was wondering why I was still reading it. Much better books out there, I'm sure.
Interesting. Precise topics in each chapter.
Cyn (RaeWhit)
I thought this book lacked organization, or perhaps I just didn't understand/see the reasoning behind how the material was presented. The book could've been shorter, as there were many cases of the same information being dispensed more than once.

The part about the Titanic was very interesting, as well as the tracing of the beginnings of the NHS. As I suspected (the author did point this out), the servants at Downton Abbey fare far better than most country estate in-service staff.
O'Fallon Public Library
"Using the characters and setting of the popular television show as a point of reference for the reader, this is a closer look at the Edwardian period. They were the super rich of their times, pampered beyond belief—the early 20th century Edwardian gentry, who lived like superstars, their every desire or need catered to by an army of butlers, servants, footmen, housekeepers, and grooms." Recommended by Geauga County Public Library (Chardon, Ohio).
The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago.-- Although there was a bit of repetition, and no conversations to US dollars, this was an informative read about the English Edwardians and the people who served them. The excesses were detailed and juxtaposition next to the lives of the servants. This look at English life was fascinating. 257 pages
This was a fun, informative book. Great for all Downton Abbey fans. It is written by a British author so occasionally a British term or two. Each chapter covers a different section of life in a wealthy home usually starting with how the lord and lady and their family were expected to behave then the upper servants down to the lowly kitchen maid, poor Daisy.
Skim read the first fifty pages in an hour last night and not bothering with the rest. This book can't decide what it wants to be and was clearly published in a rush to capture the wave of interest after Downton Series 1. It's neither a guide to the show, nor a good popular history of service in Edwardian Britain. Read Alison Maloney's 'Life Below Stairs' instead.
Allison Smith steffenhagen
While I did quite a few interesting tidbits, this book feels as though it was a paper written by a teenager, a poorly written paper at that. It is full of random facts, that do not really make sense together. Also the title of the book is quite mis-leading. The book would be be aptly named "What happened during The 20-30 years before Downton Abbey begins"
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  • Life Below Stairs: in the Victorian and Edwardian Country House
  • Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
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History, especially the 20th Century, is a real passion for me. Yet I didn't start writing about it until quite recently because my career as a journalist and editor took up all my waking hours! I started out as a feature writer, in Sydney Australia, on magazines like Woman's Day, Cosmopolitan and Rolling Stone and my career as a columnist and movie writer took me all over the world for many years ...more
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