What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Suggest books for me > Historical fiction (general, romance, fantasy etc.) with servants as main characters

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message 1: by Keith (new)

Keith | 220 comments I'm looking for historical novels with main characters who are servants rather than aristocrats, royalty or otherwise wealthy/powerful. Books in other genres with historical settings (e.g. romance, fantasy, mystery etc.) would be fine as well, as long as they have servants as most or all of the main characters. Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day would be a clear example.

Things that I'm not looking for (some of these may seem obvious, but my post of this same request on the Recommendation Requests page got a lot of irrelevant answers):
-Non-fiction.
-Books where the servant characters are protagonists but have little or no agency, e.g. "misery lit" that focuses on suffering.
-Retellings, published fanfiction etc. for "classic" novels, like the three bazillion Pride and Prejudice spinoffs that seem to be everywhere now.
- A historical romance between a master/mistress and servant would not qualify if it centres mainly on the master/mistress' point of view. One with an equal split between the two would be OK, but I'm mainly looking for books that focus more on servants.


message 2: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 38154 comments Mod
Do you have a particular definition of historical fiction? Some people have a pretty strict definition that the events of the novel have to occur at least 50 years prior to when the book is published. If so, some of these won't fit that definition.

The Story of a Nobody
The Turn of the Screw
Rebecca
A Judgement in Stone
Behind a Mask
Alias Grace
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded may or may not be "misery lit," I haven't finished it.

These two are contemporary literary fiction, not historical fiction...
A Fair Maiden
The Perfect Nanny


message 3: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 38154 comments Mod
The White Tiger is contemporary literary fic.


message 5: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 15 comments Perhaps the agincourt bride by joanna hickson. There is also neherwood and ravensclif by jane sanderson


message 6: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 15 comments Netherwood*


message 7: by Keith (new)

Keith | 220 comments Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!


message 8: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
Netherwood and Ravenscliffe for 2 of Aurora's suggestions and the third is The Agincourt Bride.

There are also the The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries. In this series, it's the SERVANTS who solve all the mysteries, but they "bump" their employer, who works for Scotland Yard, so that it seems that he is the "hero." This is a fairly long series (at least 15 books.)


message 9: by Jessica (new)


message 10: by J. (new)

J. (mamalaoshi) | 56 comments The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
I really enjoyed this about a young lady who runs away from home to become a servant in an upperclass Jewish home in 1911.


message 11: by Kaion (last edited Apr 04, 2018 07:19PM) (new)

Kaion (kaionvin) | 389 comments The protagonist of As Meat Loves Salt starts off as a servant in a country home, before some events sweep him off into the English Civil War. Very dark, immersive historical fiction read.

Sylvia's Lovers focuses on lower classes in a whaling town in 18th century England. The main male character is a shopboy.

Don't know if you consider this historical: Far from the Madding Crowd features a shepherd who works under a woman he once proposed to.


message 12: by Rosa (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 5093 comments The Hired Girl for J’s suggestion.


message 13: by Keith (new)

Keith | 220 comments Thanks very much for all the new suggestions.


message 15: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
very old one, The Ghost and Lady Alice The "Lady Alice" title character is actually a maid who, for some reason becomes able to see a ghost. He helps her by providing her with directions to where he'd hidden some jewelry and acting like she's a "Lady". This was a book that I giggled all the way through, but that might have been because it was so unbelievable or because it was humourous. Or it could be that about the time I was reading it, I was recovering from surgery for what my doctors told me was advanced throat cancer--turned out to still be precancerous, so everything was giving me the giggles right then. But I do remember the book fondly, so thought I'd suggest it for your list Keith.


message 16: by Keith (new)

Keith | 220 comments @Jessica - Lady's Maid sounds like exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for.

@Ann - a book published in 1982 is a "very old one"? That's the year I was born, for one thing, and I've read stories which are thousands of years old... :-P


message 17: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6967 comments Mod
In the case of books--unless it's a major author, finding a book published before 2010 is really hard. So, I just call them "very old" even though they aren't really that old. But it's trying to find a copy of a book that you loved from earlier than 2010 that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. . . Not so easy. I have a couple of books that I've been searching for for 30 years that were published in the late 50's--and the cheapest price on the one that I could find was over $450. Sometimes you get really lucky--other times you don't. But finding the book itself from before 2010 (maybe even as early as 2000) is not easy.

And yes, I've read books that were published thousands of years ago too. Not the originals, of course, but I've read them. And been to some of the places that are referred to in them. I spent 3 years in Greece, one summer of which I got to screen dirt at a dig on a previously unknown to that point burial ground for soldiers from the Battle of Marathon (490BC).


message 18: by Keith (new)

Keith | 220 comments If you want physical copies, then yes, any book which has been out of print for a decade plus is going to be hard to find. But nowadays a lot of more obscure older books can be found much more easily online, either via second-hand sellers or as e-books. Amazon.co.uk lists both physical and Kindle copies of The Ghost And Lady Alice, for example - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Lady-A... .


message 19: by Rosa (last edited Apr 17, 2018 09:26PM) (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 5093 comments My Man Godfrey (not so good, although the movie is)
Stag Night (much better book, I thought)


message 20: by Michele (new)

Michele | 2359 comments Longbourn is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants' perspective.

A Little Princess is about a young girl who starts out as a "parlor boarder" at a boarding school in London but ends up as a scullery maid.

Vanity Fair's MC, Becky Sharpe, starts out as a servant thought she doesn't end up as one.


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