Monday, September 09, 2013

Below Stairs (1968)

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. Margaret Powell. 1968/2012. St. Martin's Press. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

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


Ann@Blogging-Profits-Unleashed 12:36 PM  

So glad you read and enjoyed this one! I didn't enjoy it when I read it, but I'd be tempted to try
to read it again at some point.

Joyful Reader 2:13 PM  

I have only read one memoir before and it was pretty good. Don't know about reading the mundane daily routines of a maid. Oh my I don't think I could "humble" myself for such service. I pray I never need to find out! :)

Becky 1:33 PM  

Ann, This wasn't a "thrilling" read for me but a quick one. For those interested in the two shows (Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey,) I think there is appeal that carries over just because...otherwise, the appeal is a bit limited!

Joyful Reader, I am seeking out more nonfiction to read. Some books are definitely worth reading, others take a bit more patience and persistence!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP