MJ'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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's review
May 11, 12

Read in May, 2012

I was not a great fan of either the two series Upstairs, Downstairs, or Downton Abbey, but this book, Below Stairs, was the inspiration for both. And I really liked it. The author, Margaret Powell, born in 1907, was the oldest of seven, and had to forgo a scholarship and quit school at 13. She started work "in service" right away, because the family could not afford to keep her at home. This seems a much more realistic look at what it was really like through the years for those servants downstairs.

She never lost her love of learning, and was well-read, which surprised employers who found out. I loved her simple writing style and humor, as well as the peek into another time, place and way of life. The hardships she had to endure are beyond anything I have ever experienced. It's sad to think so many had to give so much in return for so little. But it never crushed her spirit and I liked her to the end of the book.

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