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Not in Front of the Servants: A True Portrait of Upstairs, Downstairs Life (National Trust classics)
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Not in Front of the Servants: A True Portrait of Upstairs, Downstairs Life (National Trust classics)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Whole armies of butlers, cooks and housemaids were employed in the great households of Victorian and Edwardian England. This book is a nostalgic study of this vanished world, recreated through interviews, memoirs and letters. The author discusses different households including the estate of the Duke of Portland, who employed more than 30 kitchen staff at Welbeck Abbey and ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published May 15th 1989 by PIMLICO (first published January 1st 1973)
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Jenn
Jan 06, 2014 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Things I thought while reading this book:
Damn, I'm lazy
NO WAY
Whut?
I'm so lazy
No, they didn't!
Stupid rich people
God, I'm lazy
Nancy
This was a very interesting history about the lives and duties of English servants in the Victorian and Edwardian eras in England.
It covers everything from what they wore to how they ate, wages, daily duties an interaction with each other and the people they served. Much of this did not come as a big surprise after all the reading I've done about Victorian England, but it brought it all together in one neat package.
Sarai
If you have ever wondered what it was like to be a servant in the late 1800s through early 1900s, this book will answer a lot fo questions for you. The author has actual excerpts from interviews with servants who worked during that time period, and the book also covers such matters as uniforms, pay, living conditions, and interactions between servants and their "betters." Very interesting stuff.
Nick
Jan 18, 2017 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great Age of Servants is long, long gone, but we are still morbidly fascinated by it. Look at the success of Downton Abbey, and before that Upstairs, Downstairs, which is referenced in this book's title. Needless to say, Downton is rose-tinted in its view of the lives of servants and their relationships with their masters, though perhaps not as much as we might suppose. After all, it concerns a big house in the early 20th century. If you had to be a servant, you would choose to work at this ...more
Erika
Jan 17, 2016 Erika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A fascinating and well written look at the "Upstairs, Downstairs" culture of the English domestic service during the years 1850 to 1939.

the author uses historical references, anecdotes from the time as well as correspondence with surviving members of the serving class of the time to bring to life what it was like to live and work in those times.

It's a way of life I don't think anyone in our times or culture can fully understand. Servants lived and worked in conditions appalling close to slavery,
...more
A.J.
Aug 27, 2013 A.J. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Based on a lot of letters from contributors, this book gives a fair amount of insight into the day-to-day life of domestic servants from the Edwardian to post-Second World War period.

I found it a bit heavy-going at times, and not as entertaining as it might have been.
Glenda
Jan 15, 2012 Glenda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I made it half-way through and couldn't keep going. It was interesting to learn about the lives of servants in England through the letters the author obtained. But it didn't hold my interest enough to finish.
Cindy
Jul 03, 2012 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fasinating. I always loved the upstairs/downstairs series on PBS and this explained so much of what was going on. Very well reasearched although the author did reuse many references and quotes.
Kathy Thurman
The book contained many of the same quotes and references that I've seen in other books, but still a good read.
Laura
Jul 22, 2011 Laura rated it did not like it
Too much detail for y interest level.
Wendy
Apr 20, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who wants to know more about being a servant, having a servant in the nineteenth century - this is the book. Loved it, easy to read, informative.
Lorna Sixsmith
Jan 01, 2016 Lorna Sixsmith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Enjoyed this - great insight into the lives of former servants, mostly from letters from people who lived and worked below stairs.
Laura
Jul 17, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-own-it
I loved this book (surprising, I know) and learned a lot. I love this style of non-fiction (interviews and letters) though it is a bit dense and thus takes longer to finish. But well worth it.
Cathy
Aug 07, 2013 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gives a lot more detail on what life was really like for english servants. It was much worse than portrayed on shows like downton abbey.
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