From the award-winning novelist and writer of Upstairs, Downstairs, the launch of a brilliant new trilogy about what life was really like for masters and servants before the world of Downton Abbey.
As the Season of 1899 comes to an end, the world is poised on the brink of profound, irrevocable change. The Earl of Dilberne is facing serious financial concerns. The ripple effects spread to everyone in the household: Lord Robert, who has gambled unwisely on the stock market and seeks a place in the Cabinet; his unmarried children, Arthur, who keeps a courtesan, and Rosina, who keeps a parrot in her bedroom; Lord Robert’s wife, Isobel, who orders the affairs of the household in Belgrave Square; and Grace, the lady’s maid who orders the life of her mistress.
Lord Robert can see no financial relief to an already mortgaged estate, and, though the Season is over, his thoughts turn to securing a suitable wife (and dowry) for his son. The arrival on the London scene of Minnie, a beautiful Chicago heiress with a reputation to mend, seems the answer to all their prayers.
As the writer of the pilot episode of the original Upstairs, Downstairs - Fay Weldon brings a deserved reputation for magnificent storytelling. With wit and sympathy - and no small measure of mischief - Habits of the House plots the interplay of restraint and desire, manners and morals, reason and instinct.
©2012 Fay Weldon (P)2013 Macmillan Audio
Say something about yourself!
Early on in this novel, one character beseeches another to stop yelling. I felt the same way. In fact, stop narrating this book altogether!
I am an avid reader, who enjoys everything from Henry James to EM Forster to Ha Jin and Ruth Ozeki, from Jonathan Tropper to Rhys Bowen and Jacqueline Winspeare's Masie Dobbs series. I also enjoy great history books such as Adam Hochschild's brilliant "To End All Wars" and Lynne Olsen's captivating "Citizens of London." In other words, I'll read almost anything.
Except this book. I regret I'll not be able to get through it, due solely to the strident narration. I liked the story and found these characters to be well-imagined and sadly laughable. I would like to know how it all works out.
But I simply cannot get past Katherine Kellgren's voice, which is best characterized as barking. Constantly. It softens only occasionally. It is so harsh, so breakneck, so forced into its wryness, it literally set my teeth on edge.
In scrolling through other reviews, I was frankly relieved to see other readers had similar reactions. I don't like to criticize narration. But I must. It is solely due to the narrator that I will not finish this book.
Weldon has done a nice job of showcasing the end of an era, with characters who are so blind to the changes coming their way. I am assuming this trend continues throughout the book. But I'll never know, because I won't be able to get through it due to the narrator's grating, shouting interpretation.
Oh. So many options there. Almost anyone would have been better. In fact, maybe this is somewhat the fault of the director of this production, who could have encouraged Ms. Kellgren to tone it down a notch. In voicing Isabelle, Ms. Kellgren clearly has a nice tone and is a seasoned reader. But between Isabelle's few moments, there was the horrible barking of Rosina, the lower barking of Robert, the annoying barking of the heir to the earldom.
Sadly, it all just went wrong here. At least for me.
Cannot answer this as I must confess to not being able to get through it.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same is true when it comes to hearing.
Clearly, as evidenced by some enthusiastic reviews, Katherine Kellgren has her fans. She lost me on this one.
hilarious rendering of life below and above stairs in a Victorian society household.
Same time, different social strata in many books by Anne Perry.
Her voices were priceless.
This book made me laugh out loud.
If you're not tired of Downton Abbey and need to catch up on the 1899 Belgravian gossip this may be the book for you. It involves a clutch of matrons and maids nattering about clothes and what to serve thePrince of Wales when (and if) he comes to dinner. All told in the worn style of supercilious irony (e.g. Women "produce" children in this novel, they just can't "have" them) that should have gone out with Wodehouse
I found it a light, fun tale. Just what I needed!
I plan to check in to her other offers.
I was saddened to read a poor review by someone else which prompted me to write one myself! I LOVE Katherine Kellgren and since falling in love with her Bloody Jack characters have searched her out and will continue listening and enjoying her narration! Keep up your excellent work Katherine, I enjoy you SOOOOO!
Good dialogue, good attention to detail of the period. The characters were well described. I liked the twists and turns. My biggest complaint is the abrupt finish. It seems as if the author had reached her word count, and just wanted to be done. So a "Deus Maccia" (sp?) device is used and in two paragraphs everything is settled, done, fini. Infuriatingly, simplistic conclusion.
I have read others, was much more impressed.
Great range of voices and accents.
I was excited as I had just listened to a few of Kate Morton's books and was thinking it would be as exciting. Not. Sad :(
If you like Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs this book is a good one
its a little funny
I love her voice.
gee & unlay
Yes. The reader. She reads as if there are no commas or periods. Her British accent sounds false and contrived. She really is ruining a good story by her style of reading. And she should slow down her pace.
The Age of Innocent. It has the same feel but the English Aristocrats are looking for money to bail out their debts and to maintain their way of life.
If the reader could slow her pace and read with a better British accent.
It would be perfect for Master Piece Theater!
Overall, the story is very good.
This was boring--slim on plot and characters with any personality whatsoever. I find it hard to believe that it is only one of a forthcoming trilogy. If it is meant, as I suspect, to appeal to "Downton Abbey" or "Upstairs, Downstairs" fans in the "off-season," then editors are either severely underestimating the fans' intelligence levels or I am overestimating them. I hope the former, but fear the latter.
Do your brain a favor and use your credit on Edith Wharton or Henry James. If you want to know more about servant's lives, read any of the well-researched books or memoirs: "Up and Down Stairs," by Jeremy Musson, or "Below Stairs," by Margaret Powell.
The story is a good one, though a little thin on detail: or rather, with great detail in some parts, then sudden shifts with a great deal of action not described, but finished. Still, a good period story. The narrator, however, is awful: why employ someone with such a terrible phony British accent? It would be better to have it read out in straight American accent if a true British reader cannot be found.
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