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

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  10,706 Ratings  ·  1,468 Reviews
Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants, Margaret Powell's classic memoir of her time in service is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high.

Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downsta
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Hardcover, 212 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1968)
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Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" - Nevisande : Margaret Powell - ISBN : 1250005442 - ISBN13 : 9781250005441 - Dar 212 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 1968
Madeline
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Do you watch Downton Abbey?

If you answered yes, congratulations, we can continue being friends. I'm currently obsessed with that show, and so when I was in Barnes and Noble last week browsing through the biography/memoir section (like I do) this caught my eye, and I was about to put it back when I noticed that the title was blaring MEMOIR THAT INSPIRED "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" AND "DOWNTON ABBEY" and the next thing I knew I bought it. So kudos to the marketing team behind this book, because they k
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Diane
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a delightful book! I admit I was drawn to it because of its claim to have inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey," but I think I would have loved it regardless.

The writer was born in 1907 in Hove, England, and even though she was bright and had won a scholarship, her family was poor and she couldn't afford to go to school, so she started working at age 13. Her first domestic service job was as a kitchen maid, and she eventually worked her way up to cook, which was a prestigious
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Zanna
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This is a brisk and efficient book full of interesting observations on interwar British society from a working class perspective. Powell grew up in a poor family in Hove, a seaside town on the UK south coast very close to Brighton. That the working poor lived in dreadful conditions during the period is no surprise, but what struck me was Powell's praise of Hove, where during her childhood all the lawns were public space and filled with children of all classes playing (though generally n
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Kaethe
When Powell was one of seven children, and pretty much starving, everything was better and had more flavor. Not like the rubbish you get nowadays (ie., 1968). She has a strong voice but lacks perspective on everything. She tells the reader that her parents could enjoy sexy times in privacy only when the kids were off at Sunday School (nine people in two or three rooms) but doesn't consider that information about birth control was suppressed by the church and the state at that time. She had to le ...more
Mela
It is a very informative book, especially for someone who likes to read historical fiction which take place in UK amongst upper class. The look from the house servant point of view is priceless. This memories opened my eyes to many aspects.

It is really hard to believe sometimes how people lived not such long ago. What they ate, how they made their dishes, how day cleaned a house and so on. (e.g.: there weren't fridges, nobody heard of something like a diet or healthy eating.)

Then, you have here
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Kim A
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very easy and enjoyable read. Loved how Margaret Powell didn't romanticize the jobs and roles of servants like many other books I've read. Also appreciated hearing the opinions she had in regards to feminism and the injustices of the poor as well as the plight of those in the servant industry in England

Wish it were a bit longer but am now waiting for her second book which is a sequel to this one.
^
I was surprised to find no mention of a ghost writer; because the style of the writing is very much 'as told'. That directness really does work well, because the reader is firmly put at the same level as the servants; and, boy, don't a number of the employers seem to inhabit some rarefied and distant plane!

Yes, one is left wishing that employers would be more considerate of the quality of life of their servants. But one can well see in Margaret Powell the dilemma to many: wondering how to be a h
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Dawn
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-fodder
My gran could have written this book. It certainly sounded like her voice coming down through time! A fascinating first hand account of what life was like at the early part of the 19th century for so many bright, capable women. Choices were few and life was outlined almost from birth if you were born into a working-class family of uncertain means. My great grandfather, who served galantly in the war, raised three children in Paddington on a carman's wages.

My gran went into service as a laundry
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Sverre
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographical, history
At the conclusion of the book, Margaret Powell says "So despite what it may sound like, I'm not embittered about having had to go into domestic service." Readers would like to believe that but most of the contents and tone of the book can easily be understood as being the memoirs of an embittered domestic.

Fans of Downton Abbey and Berkeley Square may expect to discover tantalizing details of below and above stairs goings-on in this book but will be rather disappointed to learn that the dreary sl
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Margaret Powell (1907 – 1984) was an English writer. Her book about her experiences in domestic service, Below Stairs, became a best-seller and she went on to write other books and became a television personality. Below Stairs was an impetus for Upstairs, Downstairs and the basis of Beryl's Lot, and is one of the inspirations of Downton Abbey.
More about Margaret Powell...
“I used to wonder why... Mum kept having babies... that was the only pleasure poor people could afford . It cost nothing--at least at the time when you were actually making the children. The fact that it would cost you something later on, well, the working-class people never looked ahead in those days.” 10 likes
“They knew that you breathed and you slept and you worked, but they didn’t know that you read. Such a thing was beyond comprehension. They thought that in your spare time you sat and gazed into space, or looked at Peg’s Paper or the Crimson Circle. You could almost see them reporting you to their friends. ‘Margaret’s a good cook, but unfortunately she reads. Books, you know.” 6 likes
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