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Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times | [Lucy Lethbridge]

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times

From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers - even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust - as popular culture would have us believe - they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order.
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Publisher's Summary

The vividly told lives of British servants and the upper crust they served.

From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers - even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust - as popular culture would have us believe - they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order. Spanning over 100 years, Lucy Lethbridge - in this "best type of history" (Literary Review) - brings to life through letters and diaries the voices of countless men and women who have been largely ignored by the historical record. She also interviews former and current servants for their recollections of this waning profession.

At the fore are the experiences of young girls who slept in damp corners of basements, kitchen maids who were required to stir eggs until the yolks were perfectly centered, and cleaners who had to scrub floors on their hands and knees despite the wide availability of vacuum cleaners. We also meet a lord who solved his inability to open a window by throwing a brick through it and Winston Churchill’s butler who did not think Churchill would know how to dress on his own.

A compassionate and discerning exploration of the complex relationship between the server, the served, and the world they lived in, Servants opens a window onto British society from the Edwardian period to the present.

©2013 Lucy Lethbridge (P)2013 Audible Inc.

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    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds SUMMERVILLE, SC, United States 03-16-14
    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds SUMMERVILLE, SC, United States 03-16-14 Member Since 2010

    author of Lowcountry Legend's series

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    "A collection of stories about servants"

    I didn't come away with much more from this than an affirmation that classed societies don't work very well for those on the bottom. I got the feeling that the author admired these people, saw them as a type of hero or heroine, maybe they were--they certainly didn't have a lot of choices to act on their own accords.

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