Regina Spiker'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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Jun 22, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: maids, servants, help
Read in June, 2012

If you love the movie Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs - this is the perfect read for you. Growing up in Hove, England, Margaret Powell, came from a very loving, but poor family. At age seven she was preparing breakfast for her siblings and ushering them to school. Even though Margaret was extremely bright and was given a scholarship, she began work at the tender age of 13 to help her family. Big for her age, she could pass for several years older and was, unfortunately, asked to do even more. At age 15, Margaret was working in a laundry and then moved up in the world when she was hired on as a kitchen maid - the lowest rung of the servant ladder, but Margaret had her eye on being a cook one day. The cook was usually treated better than other staff, given more free time, and could go out any afternoon - as long as she was back in time to cook dinner.

So honest, sad, and hilarious in parts, Margaret Powell wrote her novel in 1968 and opened the door on what went on behind the closed doors and basements of the wealthier class.
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