Dora Annie is the story of a young girl and her tough but happy family life, who went to her first live-in job at the age of eight as a companion and helper to an unwell father’s wife. She had to ring a hand bell outside the farmhouse to summon the farmer and his two sons in emergencies. It covers her adventures when she went into service at the age of fourteen as a Tweeny Maid, Nursery Maid and then finally a Ladies Maid- which was the very top of the female servant’s ladder. ‘I am so lucky, thought Dora.’
Written for children, the book provides fascinating real-life insights into being a servant and the day-to-day tasks her grandmother and the other workers were faced with. It explores a typical day – starting work at 6:00am, preparing the kitchen for the cook and helpers arrival, washing the dishes, family prayers and being in awe of the house where she served. It also touches upon her relationship with David, her good friend who she felt she was falling in love with.
Extensively illustrated throughout, Dora Annie will appeal to older children and young adults, but also has multi-generational relevance.
‘“What a beautiful morning,” she said to herself. The bees were buzzing, crickets chirruping and the high hedgerow was thick with nesting birds. Sometimes she glimpsed the countryside spread out before her through the gaps in the hedge branches, marvelling at the different greens of the fields and trees. It was late Spring, 1888, in rural Gloucestershire.’