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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.
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By Michelle A. Lynch on 04-08-15
Memoir of a Bygone Era
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.
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