Below Stairs is one of two memoirs by Margaret Powell. As a young teen--fifteen, I believe--she entered service. (She left school to begin working to support her family a year or two earlier however.) Her first positions in service were as a kitchen maid. She later promoted herself to cook and sought out other positions with other families. The book tells of her experiences and shocks. One shock, for example, was when she found out she was to iron the shoe laces every morning in addition to polishing the shoes. It's a detailed look at work. Work as a maid is anything but fun, glamorous, exciting. Dreary, repetitive, exhausting comes more to mind. This memoir does not focus on any particular wealthy family; it is not a dramatic romance like Downton Abbey.
I enjoyed reading Below Stairs. I found it to be a quick read. I liked that Powell enjoyed reading and tried her best to read what she could, when she could, even though there wasn't always a lot of free time. She worked very long hours, had very little time to herself, and was at times discouraged from seeking out books and wanting 'more'.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews