Julia Reed's Reviews > What the Butler Winked At: Being the Life and Adventures of Eric Horne, Butler

What the Butler Winked At by Eric Horne
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Dec 05, 12

Read from April 24 to August 19, 2012

I picked this up as a selection for my personal "Downton Abbey Reading List", but it took me months to finish. This was one of the first book's of its kind (a servant's true memoir), but doesn't measure up to its great successors like "Rose: My Life in Service" (still, in my opinion, the best of the genre). The writing is very disorganized, the spelling is archaic, and the stories are obscured by a lot of complaining about how horrible a servant's life is and how stupid are any of the available remedies to improve it. Maybe Horne was trying to pull a Richard Henry Dana (Two Years Before the Mast) and use a popular piece of writing to draw attention to the plight of servant's and sympathy for their condition, but it didn't work as well in this. Maybe because Two Years Before the Mast is a tight, compelling human drama, while "What the Butler Winked At" is just a sort of endless old man's rambling with no particular point or narrative direction. If you've read everything else on your own Downton reading list and you need something to tide you over until Season 3, this one is ok, but if you're just getting started, try one of the better memoirs first.
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