Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Below Stairs



I'm left with the feeling of not loving this book or the lady who wrote it. It was kind of a depressing story. She started service at about 15 and took the job of a kitchen maid because she didn't want to sew and all the other female servants had to sew. Her mother knew that it was a hard job but thought things had changed and it would be better. She was wrong, it was a grueling job and she was treated like the lowest of the low by the other servants. Every morning she had to clean the brass on the front door and the steps with her bum sticking up in the air, it was humiliating. Also the downstairs level, the servants level, was primitive at best and nothing was done to make their jobs easier. The employers didn't want to spend any more money then they had to. Not ever job she had was like this, but most of them were. She graduated to a cook later in her career and no longer had a cook pushing her around. Cooks were given more respect, but she had more interaction with her employer now and they could be demanding and unappreciative. She really wasn't much of a cook when she started so she was only employed by people who couldn't get anyone else. She didn't have her own kitchen maid so she still had to do the cleaning up.

 Julian Fellows who wrote Downton Abby wrote on the back of the book that this story inspired his writing of Downton Abby but I didn't see much comparison. She didn't work on a big estate in the country and her employers were usually not that wealthy. Once she got a temporary job for someone who's cook was sick and she loved it and was treated wonderfully and had a very nice bedroom but unfortunately it was only for a few months, but it did show that there were good jobs out there, she just never seem to get them. I think it was hard to tell before you started to work what your employer was going to be like and what you would have to put up with.

Her story had a very Dickens feel to it. She came from a poor family and ended up marrying a milkman and having 3 children and were also poor. I think I've had my fill of this kind of story now.

 Linda




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