June 12, 2014

Modern views from a time gone by

Below Stairs is a memoir of a woman who entered into domestic service as a kitchen maid at 13 and who saw the injustice of her situation (and indeed of all those in servitude) at a time when conditions were on the peak of changing. At the beginning of the tale, Margaret Powell is at home with her family which is large (typical of the time) and poor (also typical of many families). She must leave home, school, and everything she is familiar with because there is not enough money to keep her. What she discovers at her first place of work in service is that the dichotomy between Them upstairs and the servants below stairs is extremely pronounced despite the whisper of changes on the horizon. As the lowest rung on the service ladder, the kitchen maid (in Margaret's opinion) is treated with the least amount of respect or common decency. The story goes on to describe not only the differences between the classes but also the differences between the sexes. Powell's views are modern and revolutionary for the time period and her wit is absolutely biting. I thought this was a very interesting and entertaining read and I can definitely see how Downton Abbey used this as a reference point (you'll recognize some plot points if you're a fan of the show). I recommend it for anyone who'd like a quick, fun read that's also chock full of history (and cooking!).

Because I have absolutely no restraint when it comes to entering any 'book place' I came back from a visit to the library with Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. I feel like I heard about this book when it originally came out but for whatever reason I'm just now getting around to it after a recommendation showed up in my email. The main characters of this murder mystery are those beloved individuals from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Really that's all you had to say to me and I would have been intrigued. Frankly, any fan of Jane Austen and/or mysteries would be hard pressed to pass up a book with such a titillating blurb.


  1. Hi Alicea, I have a question for you regarding a tweet of yours I saw. How can I reach you? Thanks Pia

    1. Hi there, Pia!

      You can either DM me on Twitter or you can send me an email at pandypuddingpie@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you! :-)

  2. No Jane Austen for me. ForsOOth.