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Life Below Satirs: In the Victorian & Edwardian Country House | Sian Evans | Reviewed by Niina

life below stairs


Life Below Stairs by Sian Evans is a non-fictional book about the life of the servants in the Victorian and Edwardian country houses. I have to admit that the only reason I picked it up was because I’m a Downton Abbey fan. I really enjoy watching Downton Abbey and felt like I wanted to learn more about the servants and their working conditions.

Life Below Stairs is a very informative book and I feel like it covers most parts of the life of servants in the Victorian and Edwardian country houses. You can read about the different jobs and hierarchies between servants, about special occasions in the houses and the servant’s relationships with their employers. You can also read about the different rooms in the country houses and their different uses during the Victorian and Edwardian area. The book is also filled with a lot of pictures and photographs. The pictures consist of both old photographs and new photographs taken in the country houses of the Victorian and Edwardian era.
Life Below Stairs is an easy and informative read. I felt like I learned a lot of new things while the experience was easy and pretty effortless. Every different chapter is pretty short and the text is always combined with a lot of pictures. That being said I still feel like the book was filled with a lot of information. I think that this book suits both people who are total beginners and people who already have some knowledge in the subject because despite all the pictures and the short chapters this book is filled with a lot of information. There are also a lot of stories and examples from real country houses from the era. But I have to say that there was one thing that made the reading experience a bit slower and more confusing then necessary and it was all the name-dropping. Every chapter was filled with examples from different country houses and people. There were a lot of names and I had a pretty hard time remembering the names and keeping them apart. It kind of felt like the author thought that everyone reading the book would already know the names every lord, lady or servant from the Victorian and Edwardian era in Great Britain. I don’t know about you but I don’t know my lords and ladies and all that name-dropping made me a bit confused.

I always think that it’s really hard to rate non-fiction books because in the end it’s mostly about your individual interests. If you read a non-fiction book about something you’re really interested in you’re probably going to enjoy it (even if there’s obviously good and bad examples of books about the same subject, but I think you get the point). So, I’m not going to rate Life Below Stairs by using the stars I usually give out. I’m just going to say that if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey and want to learn more about the life of the servants (or are interested in the subject for some another reason) I think you’re going to enjoy reading this book. I also think that you’re going to learn some new interesting things about life in the Victorian and Edwardian era. Even if all the name-dropping annoyed me a bit I still think this book was worth reading and I liked how informative yet effortless it was. 

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.



1 comment

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