Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Waiting for Downton Abbey by Karla Stover


Waiting for Downton Abbey, by Karla Stover

     We are eight weeks away from the next season of Downton Abbey and many viewers are hoping the eldest daughter, widow and born-to-the-manor, Lady Mary will find romance with her widower brother-in-law, Tom, the Irish Republican and the family’s former chauffeur. Tom has settled in above-the-stairs fairly well, and is accepted by most people, but in real life that was not always the case. Take Margaret Powell’s autobiography, Servants’ Hall, for example. Ms Powell worked for the Wardham family at their Redlands estate. In the book, she recounts her life as the family cook, along with the marriage of parlor maid, Rose to the son-of-the-house, Gerald. The fact that Rose insisted on maintaining her friendships with the staff after her marriage didn’t bode well.

     I’m a sucker for well-written memoirs. When I want to binge on a particular type of book, such as life-below-the-stairs, I go to Alibris and plug in the title of a book, such as Servants’ Hall. When the book comes up, there is a spot on the right side labeled,” More Books Like This.” Thus, I read Rosina Harrison’s book, Rose: My Life in Service, which led me to her biography of the Astor’s butler, Edwin Lee and that led me to Eric Horne’s What the Butler Winked At. Though pretty tame by contemporary, tell-all standards, Mr. Horne’s book was a sensation when it came out, as those above the stairs panicked for fear of what they might read about themselves.

     When Call the Midwife, a series based on Jennifer Worth’s books, started showing on PBS, I found her other books on Alibris and read them all. That’s not to say, “More Books” doesn’t sometimes go off on a bit of a tangent. It also recommended Belle de Jour: Life of an Unlikely Call Girl. Maybe the anonymous who wrote it needed a midwife.

     And now I seem to be off on my own tangent. Here I sit, reading Mollie Moran’s, Minding the Manor while I wait for Downton Abbey to start. I sit knowing full well Lady Grantham will soon be simpering over Lady Mary; Lady Mary will be swanning around, and poor Lady Edith will still be looking for a man.

                                                                 Author of A Line to Murder
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