Posted at Shelf Inflicted
As a huge fan of the Downton Abbey TV series, I was thrilled to find this book beckoning to me from the library’s front desk display.
It’s a lovely book with gorgeous photos and historical information about British life during the World War I era. It shows the contrasts between the wealthy Crawley family and the servants below stairs and goes into detail about the servants’ duties and the hierarchy within the staff. There are also tidbits about the people and places that inspired the series.
There are sections devoted to family life, romance and marriage, house and furnishings, clothing styles, war, and the lives of the servants.
In the section on hunting, there is a description by Ernest King on how he cleaned his master’s hunting clothes:
“From horse and rider perspiring, from a fall in a muddy ditch or field, they can come back in a pretty mess, especially the coat tails. When in this state we would ask the housemaid to save us the contents of the chamber pots, at least a bucketful. It was truly miraculous in getting the dirt out. That was immediately followed, I hasten to add, by brushing with clean water. I’ve often wondered if all the smart and fashionable hunting folk ever knew of the means taken to keep their coats so smartly turned out.”
The last section gives a glimpse behind the scenes – historical details, camera work, hairstyles and makeup, military uniforms and war scenes. At the end is a list of books for further reading.
If you enjoy the series, this is an excellent companion book.