Friday, April 27, 2012

Book 33: Below Stairs

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell is a book about what it was like to work in the kitchens of England’s rich and famous in the early 1900s. This book is touted as being one of the reference books used in the hit series: Downtown Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. This book was an enjoyable read.

I won’t lie, I was drawn to this book since it’s been a reference book for two great dramas shown on PBS over the years. I love going back to the source material for things and read memoirs. So I knew right away that this was a book that would interest me.

One of the things I love about good memoirs is how a person will show their personality. It’s not just what is said, it’s how it is said. Powell’s feisty, working class personality showed through. But it brought a lot of flavor to the book.

I can definitely see how this book has been used in Downtown Abbey. Much of Margaret Powell is in Daisy especially her relationship with the cook. Many of the anecdotes started to show up in the series in one way or another.

I will say it’s a bit of a mix bag of tricks to see her relationship with the job she had. It was something she did and hated doing a good part of the work.  She got a lot out of her job but it did cost a lot too: mainly her happiness and free time. It’s a lot like my first job.

I really liked this book. I could relate to her stories a lot even though my menial tasks have been so much easier then a lot of what Mrs. Powell did when she was kitchen maid.  Cleaning bedrooms is so much easier now then some of the things she said. I got a great picture of what her life was like.  

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