The sequel to New York Times best seller Below Stairs, Servants' Hall tells a gripping real-life tale reminiscent of Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil and Tom Branson.
Margaret Powell's Below Stairs became a sensation among listeners 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, 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 ruled England.
©1979 Margaret Powell (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
The reader really made this book work for me. It is a simple tale of a woman's coming of age in service between the wars and I found it engaging throughout.
Fans of Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey will recognize the inspiration behind the TV shows in Powell's memoirs. Margaret Powell had a gift for storytelling and wordsmithing reminiscent of James Herriot. Her books are populated with equally memorable and often humorous characters, and her tales can bring laugher and tears. This is not a Cinderella story with a fairytale ending. Rather, it is a sad story of true life and love. I prefer Mary Wells, who narrated Below Stairs. This narrator has a harsher, almost angry sounding, tone to her voice in comparison.
Cat lover, technology enthusiast, novice audio book listener
The story goes into more detail about the places were she's worked. I see many parts of this book replicated in PBS Downton Abbey. I did enjoy making those connections.
I liked the book and it was a worthy listen. However, the author has written 2 stories, this one and below stairs and there is a some rehash of the same content. I was rather disappointed to hear the same stuff twice. I did like the book, and there is some new stuff there, but, I'm not sure I would've bought it if I knew it was basically the same story..
It is worth listening to, especially if you like to read about the lives of servants but if you have already read Below Stairs, be warned there is repeat content in this one.
I have listened to this several times. It is an interesting look into the lives and mindsets of the 'serving classes'. Because it is an area of interest for me, I don't find it dull, but others may. Narrator has clear diction and she conveys the different characters in a subtle yet effective way. The romance . . . Well, it it isn't much of one and the woman involved, is frustrating in her refusal to better herself, blind to the great gift she's been given of 'marrying up' into a life of ease. The romantic attempts of the author and others and the descriptions of their lives and situations are the real meat of the book.
Reader was very good
that servant's parents did not want servant daughter to marry the rich guy.
just the discussion of the pecking order among the servants
It makes you realize that "the good ole days" were not that good for most people,
but that people coped and got by. If you got sick, it really didn't matter if you were
rich or poor.
I enjoyed the reader and the story was charming. Sort of like Downton Abbey but definitely a different twist.
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