• Upstairs & Downstairs

  • My Life In Service as a Lady's Maid
  • By: Hilda Newman, Tim Tate
  • Narrated by: Helen Lloyd
  • Length: 6 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (828 ratings)

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Upstairs & Downstairs  By  cover art

Upstairs & Downstairs

By: Hilda Newman,Tim Tate
Narrated by: Helen Lloyd
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Publisher's Summary

The year was 1935: the twilight of the English aristocracy. It was a time of wealth and glamour; of lavish balls and evening gowns; of tiaras and a coronation. As personal maid to Lady Coventry, Hilda Newman had a unique insight into the leisured life of one of Britain's most noble families. In her fascinating memoir of life upstairs and down, Hilda takes us back to this period between the wars; a gilded era which would soon be dramatically changed by the Second World War.

Transplanted from a tiny house with no bath or hot water to an 18th-century Neo-Palladian mansion, Hilda's life changed beyond recognition. But in a time when the very foundations of British society were being shaken to their core, the luxurious life of the country nobility couldn't last. The Second World War brought more turbulence with it, and Croome Court, where Hilda had lived and worked, became a haven for the Dutch Royal Family fleeing Nazi occupation, whilst also home to a top-secret RAF base. The lavish banquets and decadent parties had become a thing of the past.

Hilda's story takes us back to a bygone era, showing us what life was really like in England's classic country manors of old - and uncovers the real lives of the people who occupied them, from wealthy lord to lowly servant.

©2019 Martyn Newman obo Hilda Newman (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Upstairs & Downstairs

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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Wonderful listen!!

If you like English history this is your book as a first person account from the the last of the era.

4 people found this helpful

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Britain in the early 20th century

A lot to like in the snapshots of life in the 30s and beyond — from the incomprehensible currency demarcations (farthing?) to the strict hierarchy of servants, to a glimpse of the aristocracy hunting. The narrator is wonderful too. Cons: (1) there’s no real plot, as it’s a memoir not a story. (2) There’s a nontrivial amount of Things Were Better Back Then chat that feels more like a lecture than a natural take on what is shown. But I enjoyed the outing, especially as free content!

2 people found this helpful

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Loved this book

If you like Edwardian and similar books on like "upstairs" and "downstairs" this is an excellent book, providing first hand look at what it is like being a ladies maid to an aristocratic woman.

2 people found this helpful

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A wonderful personal history

I enjoyed every minute of this book. History always means more when told through a memoir. Hilda made me feel like I was there. I’m sad it’s over.

2 people found this helpful

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A wonderful listen.

This book is just wonderful. The author describes things so well, and has such a lovely spirit. I loved listening to her story, and especially on her reflections at the end. Great narrator too!

2 people found this helpful

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Charming in all aspects

Performance was well suited to the period in history as the character's story conveyed the events as if you were having a lovely conversation. Very enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful

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Insight into life below stairs

Hilda's story of her life as a lady's maid tells of a chapter of time that has now closed. I really enjoyed reading about how servants got their positions and were treated by their employers. What did they eat, when did they date and when did they get medical attention if necessary? This book put me right there below stairs amongst the help to experience daily life.

The tone of the book was kind of cloying and syrupy but the story is so good that I let that go. This book was one I kept eagerly looking forward to reading.

1 person found this helpful

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Short and sweet but very personal story.

This story is told by a 100 year old woman who lived through both the 1st and 2nd World War And who served for a short time as a lady's maid to one of the aristocracy of the time period. While not quite as dramatic as Downton Abbey or the series upstairs downstairs, It does serve to prove prove some of the things we have seen are in fact true. This is a Very sweet little story and I enjoyed listening to it.

1 person found this helpful

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Tale of a working class woman

Molly is a working class girl in a small village in England during the 1930s. She is apprenticed as a dressmaker and finds a job as ladies maid. It was an easy read and I especially enjoyed reading about her life during the 1920s and 30s. She talks about the acceptance of the aristocracy and the class structure in England but emphasized but they were all united citizens of the country. It was not overly historical but it was a memoir. The two great wars were discussed as well as th

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Excellent read.

If you enjoy historical fiction, this is the book for you. Well done. I will definitely read this book again. Highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-01-19

Mildly interesting

As an avid Downton abbey fan, I picked this up. Some interesting bits
Doesn't flow well, quite patronising at times.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jasmine Patience
  • 01-28-22

Not what I expected

I almost gave up with this book after the first chapter or so, but persevered to the end. I had to overcome the rather scathing and narrow view of "the world today" and what I think is a naive memory of how things were (although, to be fair, the author probably didn't have the opportunity to form a different opinion). The content however, is interesting and the narrator reads it in a way that I think the author meant it to be read. On the whole, I am glad I listened to the end.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs. C. A. Real
  • 08-13-22

Upstairs Downstairs

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book - I was quite sorry when it ended, as I could have gone on listening to it forever. It was completely absorbing and very well written and narrated. I loved the whole story and it gave a wonderful picture of how life was in those days. Excellent!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karen Thomas
  • 08-12-22

A real and meaningful memory, very special.

Very well read, a gentle account of a life well lived according to standards of decency. One to listen to often.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kieran
  • 09-01-22

heartwarming and thoroughly enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book, what an amazing life she has led . heartwarming and enjoyable

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-01-22

Interesting book, nicely written

Interesting book showing a different life, quite eye-opening actually that only 100 years ago life was SO different (I'm only 25)... Food for thought.

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  • Kindle-klant
  • 08-27-22

Definitely worth listening!

Great audiobook, couldn't stop listening. just wish it was longer and the narrator was a perfect choice, she knows how to really get you in the story.

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  • Sandavon
  • 08-18-22

Wonderful memoir

A beautifully written book by a very intelligent lady. It tells of a time, although very hard, was much more gentile. Helen Lloyd does a wonderful performance and brings the characters to life.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-17-22

Wonderful book

This book was so interesting and gave a colourful and real life insight into the life of the below stairs staff. Beautifully written and read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • oily
  • 08-17-22

amazing

I have been to this place many times and it has wanted me to go back. A truly great story

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-10-22

Fascinating.

This book totally intrigued me from start to finish as it was a wonderful exploration of a precarious time in human history from a depth of perspective that is as humble as it is compassionate & full of candour along the way. Excellent. 👍🏼👍🏼 #fivestars

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  • Jim Breen
  • 03-02-22

Completely Wonderful!

I'm happy to admit I'm tragically obsessed with anything that's old, traditional and just beautiful. This story is no exception. I LOVED it, I loved everything about it! Thank you!

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  • julee latimer
  • 02-22-22

Interesting account

I found the history of Britain in the 1920s and 1930s really interesting Also enjoyed the author's memories of life below stairs.

I did, however, find the author's personal views on life and people in contemporary Britain a little irritating.

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  • Cheri Bowater
  • 12-20-21

Really a true to life story.

Loved "Molly's" story of being a lady's maid. First hand and first class. Told it like it was without dragging down her ladyship. Recommend this highly if you are a Downton Abbey fan.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-21-21

Lovely Tale

I really enjoyed this account of history. It was an interesting story to tell. I loved it

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • 11-14-21

Lovely book to listen to.

Thoroughly enjoyed the tales of this bygone era. Well spoken narration, pleasure to listen to.
Thank you for writing this wonderful story.

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  • Peonyrose
  • 02-08-20

Downton Abby Fans - a must

This is a fascinating tale of a true story of what it was like to live as a servant. A true story behind what it was really like downstairs. I loved every moment of this book.