The Housekeeper's Tale

  • by Tessa Boase
  • Narrated by Tessa Boase
  • 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Working as a housekeeper was one of the most prestigious jobs a 19th and early 20th century woman could want - and also one of the toughest. A far cry from the Downton Abbey fiction, the real life Mrs. Hughes was up against capricious mistresses, low pay, no job security, and grueling physical labor. Until now, her story has never been told.
The Housekeeper's Tale reveals the personal sacrifices, bitter disputes and driving ambition that shaped these women's careers. Using secret diaries, unpublished letters, and the neglected service archives of our stately homes, Tessa Boase tells the extraordinary stories of five working women who ran some of Britain's most prominent households.
Dorothy Doar was Regency housekeeper for the obscenely wealthy first Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Trentham Hall, Staffordshire. Sarah Wells, a deaf and elderly Victorian (mother to H.G. Wells), was in charge of Uppark, West Sussex. Ellen Penketh was Edwardian cook-housekeeper at the impecunious Erddig Hall in the Welsh borders. Hannah Mackenzie ran Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, Britain's first country-house war hospital. Grace Higgens was cook-housekeeper to the Bloomsbury set at Charleston farmhouse in East Sussex for half a century.
Revelatory, gripping and unexpectedly poignant, The Housekeeper's Tale champions the invisible women behind the English country house.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good story - Awful music!

Good stories and narration - terrible music !!!!!! Glad I didn't live in that Era!!
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- dawn

Good historical insight

What did you love best about The Housekeeper's Tale?

I loved the real-life stories of these housekeepers. Their memories are often lost to history and I appreciated the research that went into telling their stories.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Difficult choice- I liked all of them for different reasons.


What about Tessa Boase’s performance did you like?

She was easy to listen to.


What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

How similar their stories are, despite spanning more than a century.


Any additional comments?

I really didn't care for the transition music between chapters and parts. To me, it took away from the story. I just want the audio of the text, delivered in a pleasant voice.

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- Jenn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2016
  • Publisher: Tessa Boase