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The Lady's Maid: My Life in Service Paperback – 23 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (23 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091943515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091943516
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"No fictional series would have dared present a story half so full of strife - and hate as well as love - as that of Rose and her mistress ... The book is full of wry humour as well as splendid anecdotes which make it extremely jolly reading for those who don't have to live through the experiences. The period touches are fascinating, ranging from the grim to the purely enjoyable" (Antonia Fraser Evening Standard)

"Fascinating, outspoken, yet respectful, loving, yet indignant: a social document of mistress and maid, in station opposite, but in temperament equal ..." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Unique insight into the splendours and miseries of Clivedon ... stuffed with interesting and amusing anecdotes" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Emminently readable" (Financial Times)

"Fascinating and deliciously readable" (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

A fascinating look at the life of a lady's maid, and her spirited employer, in the first half of the 20th century

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jo D'Arcy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Although a new book to me this is not a new book as such. First published in the mid-seventies as Rose: My life in Service, this is a book about Rosina `Rose' Harrison who from her humble beginnings in Yorkshire, through to her move into domestic service and her position as a Ladies Maid to Nancy Astor.

Astor was the first female Member of Parliament and was rather well known in society and the company they kept, George Bernard Shaw, the influence of Christian Science as a religion and the houses they own for example Cliveden and the parties held. But this is a book not about Nancy Astor this is about Rose her ladies maid for nearly 35 years.

Rose could have told us many scandals and secrets of her time, but she readily admits that she has no desire to feed the nosiness of the reader. What she does is tell us the relationship between servants and their employers. The structure of a household in servant terms and how each person played a role, in the efficiency of running big houses as well as their masters and mistresses. There are observations of butlers, gardeners, cooks et al throughout the book. This gives the reader a bigger picture of the servant life and the things they see, they do and have to put up with.

What is important to remember that this book covers a fairly long time period of around 60 years, we have Roses childhood which I think sets the scene for later - it shows Rose's strength, determination and forthright Yorkshire manner which made her work for so long with Lady Astor. I am sure better women would have given up a long time before!

The relationship of servant and master changed during the war years and the movement of the workforce around the country as well as the world.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This was first published in 1975 under the title 'Rose: My Life In Service'. Rosina 'Rose' Harrison here tells us a bit about her childhood, how she was educated, and her ambition to become a lady's maid. Telling of things that happened in employment from the beginning of her years in domestic service the majority of this book is in fact taken up with her position with Lady Astor. Lady Astor was the first female MP, and she was a mass of contradictions, this in itself meant that she was always getting through lady's maids, as they couldn't put up with her. Rose on the other hand was just as forceful as Lady Astor, and thus two strong personalities came into conflict, but if anything this seemed to strengthen their relationship.

Rose's writing style is simple and forthright and you are easily drawn into her story, indeed I found it very hard to put this down as it was so absorbing and fascinating to read. Full of incident, and people you will have heard about, as well as those you wouldn't, such as Rose and Mr Lee, the perfect butler, there is a lot to take in here. Rose gives us a whole host of anecdotes, as well as some from others whom she worked with. I think that peope tend to forget these days that it was ultimately the household staff who ran the buildings, the owners, usually just getting in the way. In some ways this is quite light-hearted, but it does get to the nitty-gritty, in such things as the bombings in the Second World War, and deaths.

All in all, if you are looking to read something about domestic service, and want something that will hold you enthralled, without being too taxing, then this is ideal. Instead of watching period dramas, read this instead, and find out about what really went on, and the problems and laughs that people had. Just a quick note about the cover picture, the house in the background is Cliveden itself, where a lot of this book takes place.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ms. K. J. Waghorn on 16 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback
this book is well written and gives a wonderful insight into the life of a lady's maid to the very wealthy between about 1920 and 1964. Rosina Harrison comes across as a lovely person, not given to indiscretions but well able to stand up to the domineering Nancy Astor. I was pleased there wasn't much about the Astors' politics for that wouldn't have interested me much.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dee McDonnell on 11 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback
The Lady's Maid is a fascinating look at the life of a maid who worked downstairs of a big house. The heroine is a young Yorkshire girl and this is a really good account of the way people lived their lives at the beginning of the last century. Once I started reading this I found it hard to put down
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Broadview on 27 Jan 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was an interesting autobiographical account of Lady Astor's lady's maid. I found her loyalty to Lady Astor almost sycophantic despite the fact that she was at times treated abominably. At the same time however, her descriptions of the times when she fought back were both surprising and fascinating. The casual yet profound trust she enjoyed - even to the extent of managing and securing her lady's jewellery when travelling, was extraordinary. Altogether an interesting insight into a world which has largely disappeared, spiced with some real nuggets of inside information, but spoiled by the unjustified way in which she worshipped Lady Astor which became quite cloying at times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Curly Sue on 2 July 2012
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading this book tonight. A thoroughly enjoyable read which offeres a fascinating insight into Rosina's life in service to the Astor famiy, primarily working as a Ladies Maid to Lady Astor. I warmed immensely to both Rosina & Lady Astor....both tigresses in their own right. Very well written, not syncophantic in any way and a true & honest account of her time there. I think Lady Astor, if alive today , after reading this book would have been both disgusted & delighted in equal measure, however I believe that in Rose, she found not only an excellent, dedicated Ladies Maid, but ultimately a true friend who gave as a good as she got and I believe she would have respected that. A great read!!
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