The sequel to New York Times bestseller Below Stairs, Servants' Hall tells a gripping real-life tale reminiscent of Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil and Tom Branson and makes a perfect gift book for fans of the popular series and film.
Margaret Powell's Below Stairs became a sensation among readers reveling in the luxury and subtle class warfare of Masterpiece Theatre's hit television series Downton Abbey. Now in the sequel Servants' Hall, Powell tells the true story of Rose, the under-parlourmaid to the Wardham Family at Redlands, who took a shocking step: She eloped with the family's only son, Mr. Gerald.
Going from rags to riches, Rose finds herself caught up in a maelstrom of gossip, incredulity and envy among her fellow servants. The reaction from upstairs was no better: Mr. Wardham, the master of the house, disdained the match so completely that he refused ever to have contact with the young couple again. Gerald and Rose marry and leave Redlands, and Powell looks on with envy, even as the marriage hits on bumpy times: "To us in the servants' hall, it was just like a fairy tale . . . How I wished I was in her shoes."
Once again bringing that lost world to life, Margaret Powell trains her pen and her gimlet eye on her "betters" in this next chapter from a life spent in service. Servants' Hall is Margaret Powell at her best—a warm, funny and sometimes hilarious memoir of life at a time when wealthy families like ruled England.
Riding on the coattails of Masterpiece Theatre's hit series Downton Abbey comes this slight but pleasant recounting of domestic service in 1920's England. Powell (Below Stairs), who died in 1984, lures the reader in with her first-hand account of an unlikely romance at the Wardham residence. Rose, a comely parlourmaid with "lovely creamy skin" and "golden hair," catches the eye of the son of the house, Gerald, who is newly returned from Rhodesia. They elope and much discord ensues. While the Rose-Gerald plot is perhaps the book's most salacious one, the bulk of the narrative describes Powell's own life: her promotion from kitchen maid to cook (redcurrant jelly proves to be a particularly trying obstacle) and her relentless hunt for a husband. Powell and her "under-housemaid" best friend Mary want to get married "not just to get out of domestic service, but because to be a spinster was looked upon almost with contempt." Our author-narrator has a sharp eye and gaily skewers many of her contemporaries, both upstairs and down. Although the commentary is lively, one can't help but feel that this memoir is a little thin on plot; nevertheless, die-hard Downton fans will most likely find something here to enjoy.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Never boring! To the curious about the stuffy English past it is must read, but one must have an interest in this period and how the wealthy lived and put down the poor!