Below Stairs by Margaret Powell is a mildly interesting book. I was a bit disappointed with this book. This is partially my fault. I went into it thinking that it was a daring expose on the people that Powell worked for. It turned out to be an autobiography of a woman who worked in domestic service during both World War I and World War II. Needless to say this wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.
Below Stairs does give you the behind the scenes life of a kitchen maid. Powell worked her way up from kitchen maid to cook. Her memories and stories rang with an authenticity. You could easily tell that Powell was not a woman to clean up a story from politeness. The story is told as if you had just set down with Powell for a cup of tea to discuss nostalgic times.
To be fair, Below Stairs gives a vivid snap shot of the times in history when things seemed to be evolving quickly. If you’re looking for a scintillating tale of the era a la Downton Abbey, you may want to pass this book by. However; if you can appreciate a simple tale about domestic service you may want to give this one a try.
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