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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell Book Review

Are you eagerly awaiting the third season of Downton Abbey? Don't know what to do with yourself until it premieres?  How about read a book about a kitchen maid who works her way to becoming a cook? Sounds a bit like Daisy and Mrs. Patmore from Downton, doesn't it?

Margaret Powell's memoir Below Stairs was first published in 1968 and was the book that inspired the classic TV show Upstairs, Downstairs and the more recent Downton Abbey.

Born in 1907, Margaret was the daughter of working-class parents.  Margaret loved school and won a scholarship at age 13. She wanted to become a teacher.  However, when her parents learned that she wouldn't earn any money until she was 18-years-old, they decided to pull her out of school so she could work.   She worked odd jobs doing housework and laundry until it was decided that she would go into domestic services for upper class families (again think about the Granthams).  She was hired as a kitchen maid, which according to Powell, was the lowest position in the house for a servant.  However, if she ever aspired to be a cook, this was the best job for her. The book follows Margaret Powell as she works as a kitchen maid in various homes, becomes a cook and later marries a milkman named Albert.

Other books you might want to try are The World of Downton Abbey and Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.

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