Anita's Reviews > Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
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Apr 01, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction-read
Read from March 29 to 31, 2012

Don't let the three stars fool you. This is a book to read to get you through this long national nightmare hiatus until the third season of Downton Abbey begins. This book is the real-life memoir of the book that started it all: Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. It details life "in service" during the first part of the 20th century. It is in the great tradition of Nickel and Dimed (the pink collar work force), Coffee, Tea, or Me? (stewardesses--yes, stewardesses before they were called flight attendants), and Uncle Tom's Cabin (okay I know that one is fiction, so technically not in the same category.). All of these show how little society (we?) respect and treat those who serve. This one is interesting as you can see the real life incidents that became plot points in the two TV series. Of course not all the employers were lovely like the Grantham's and the Bellamy's, and life wasn't always so grand as the upper crust started to crumble. Margaret doesn't set herself up as victim or hero, just another skivvy trying to get a husband to get out of the life.
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