Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" - Leigh Crutchley, Margaret Powell I'm almost tempted to call this a quick read, but that would be misleading. It is indeed a short book, readable almost in one sitting. And the author's voice often comes across as a bit breezy. But it's not a 'lite' book.

Margaret Powell went into service as a kitchen maid at the age of 14. She eventually moved up to the position of cook. Her description of what goes on downstairs isn't particularly revelatory, but her discussion of the attitudes of her fellow servants toward their work is really interesting. She was a keen social observer and feminist. She was also well-read and eventually took university-level courses when her children were grown. So her voice in her memoir is both working class and well-informed.

I really enjoyed reading this. Not because of the description of her work while she was in service, but because she wrote an intimate portrait of her life and struggles.