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

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 13, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

I've never watched Upstairs, Downstairs, (I tried recently and I have to confess that the filming and acting was just too dated for me to make it more than 10 minutes through the first episode); but I'm a big fan of Downton Abbey. But even more so, I'm a fan of books that give a "slice of life" from different time periods and/or different cultures than my own, and this book does both. I thoroughly enjoyed this, although found some parts a little choppy so I couldn't quite give it five stars. Still, Powell's writing style is engaging, her personality comes through clearly, and her characterization of the people she writes about made them come to life; I could easily imagine each person. I've read other autobiographies that didn't entirely feel "real," but this one did. It was also a very interesting exploration of the class system and, even more so, how the class system changed over time. I think I value the book more for that than anything--a better understanding of what may have caused the shift, the elements of the shift, and how people reacted to it from all sides. I also appreciated Powell's kind understanding of elder women doing the best that they could as the world changed around them in the later pages of the book.

Powell is very frank about her own attitudes, even when she admits they may be off-base, and her frankness allowed for a good bit of reflection on my part of how I might imagine myself reacting in similar situations.

I do highly recommend this book, whether or not you're a fan of Upstairs, Downstairs or Downton Abbey. It's a fun and interesting read.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Below Stairs.
Sign In »

Reading Progress


Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Tanesha Great review, thanks! Have this one in my "pile" lol.

Sandy H I was surprised I'd actually read a book before you! :-) Since I depend on your reviews so much, I thought I'd return the favor. I've downloaded the three YA books that Pam sent us the links to--I might read those after I'm done with the mystery I'm reading right now. I'm enjoying this one more than I expected to. DIPLOMATIC IMPUNITY A Viennese Christmas Mystery by Jaya Gulhaugen

back to top