March Book Review

Below Stairs

This month’s review is by Lida Bushloper
Below Stairs:
The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey”
by Margaret Powell

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey”

As the third season of Downton Abbey winds down, the Library now has a new edition of the book that started it all. Margaret Powell tells the story of her life in service in wealthy British homes in a simple straightforward manner, as if she and the reader are sitting in a basement kitchen with a cup of tea, waiting for the next ring of the servants’ bells. She talks about her childhood poverty and the conditions that led her, and countless others, to go into domestic service. While learning her often harsh duties, Powell forms impressions of the upper crust she serves, the lives they lead, as well as those of her fellow “skivvies.” All along, she lets us know that her ultimate goal is to make a marriage that will let her escape her difficult lot. She certainly achieves this aim, but in the end, she achieves more than she could ever have imagined under the rigid class system of her youth. In some ways, times may have changed, but this book shows that the strength of the human spirit is still a force with which to be reckoned.

Call # Status: 921 Powell New Book Section