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The Real Life Downton Abbey [Paperback]

Jacky Hyams
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

24 Nov 2011
They were the super rich of their times, pampered beyond belief - the early 20th-century Edwardian gentry, who lived like superstars, their every desire or need catered to by an army of butlers, servants, footmen, housekeepers and grooms. Class, money, inheritance, luxury and snobbery dominated every aspect of the lives of the upper-crust Edwardian family. Below stairs the staff inhabited a completely different world, their very dependent on servicing the rich and pandering to their masters' every whim. Rubbing shoulders with wealth and privilege, they were privy to the most intimate and darkest secrets. Yet they faced ruin and shame if they ventured to make even the smallest step outside the boundaries of their class-ridden world. From manners and morals to etiquette and style, The Real Life Downton Abbey opens the doors to this fascinating period in British history.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake Publishing (24 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843589559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843589556
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.5 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jacky Hyams is a freelance journalist and editor who regularly writes for the "Evening Standard."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Venom of class envy is dripping from every page of this book. Most notably, Jacky Hyams' frequent use of the term 'toffs' and lots of mean personal remarks clearly indicate that she is incapable of making a credible contribution to her chosen topic. There might be nothing wrong with left-wing views in general; however, a book on social history should be written by someone who is capable of a well-balanced and fair representation of the era and its people. Jacky Hyams clearly is no such person.

I have a strong suspicion that Ms Hyams thinks socialism rather appealing since she dreams about 'classless society' (Introduction, xiii). In the real world there is no such thing as 'classless society'; there never was and never will be. Having grown up in East Germany (then GDR) under socialist rule, I have seen it. We had three official classes; the workers [Arbeiter], farmers [Bauern] and academics [Intelligenz]. These terms were officially - and frequently - used, for example at school, to distinguish between pupils' respective background. Now, I wonder what Ms Hyams would make of that.

What is worse, the author is as clueless about Downton Abbey as she is about the mechanisms of society. One gets the feeling that she has never actually watched the series, or has done any research in preparation for this book. How else would one explain the many gross mistakes revealing Hyams' ignorance?

I found eleven references to the Downton Abbey series in the book. Seven of these are either plainly wrong or, in my opinion, misinterpreted. Most notably, the author speaks of the Dowager Countess of Grantham as 'Duchess of Grantham' (Introduction, xii), 'Dowager Duchess of Grantham' (p. 10) and 'Dowager Duchess of Crawley' (p. 206).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear... 24 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this as a present for someone who was too polite to tell me that they gave up trying to read it. When I read it myself I found it to be historically inaccurate and really badly edited. It seems that no one did any fact checking so the author tries to pass off opinions as facts and to state personal theories as though they were proven practice. The chapters ramble a lot and dont seem to have any structure and the book itself doesn't so much come to a close as just peter out.

This Author must be thrilled to be getting a chance to cash in on the 'Downton' name but I suggest readers look elsewhere for a factual background.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some very amusing snippets 12 May 2012
By Kristin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This isnt my usual type of read, but I picked it up on the kindle on an aimless day and was very glad I did. It does give some intriguing insights into the general life of servants around that era, and how they interacted with their lords and masters. I found some of it very amusing, especially the bit about the curlers (youll know what I mean when you get to it!).

Not one for a very in depth social analysis, but a well written light read with a more realistic view of what it was like to be a maid.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Put it down... 11 Jan 2012
By R. Lou
Format:Paperback
My young son bought this for me as a Christmas gift because he had seen me watching the TV programme, and thought I might enjoy it.
It was dire, it gave me the feeling that it had been written for a tabloid audience using old TV programmes and films as the main source of historical reference.
If you like this type of social history buy 'At Home: A short history of private life' by Bill Bryson instead.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Oh dear, what a complete trainwreck of a book!
I bought it in the hope I would get a decently informative book about what life in an Edwardian mansion would be like, but I got a book lacking in true facts and full of prejudice.
The writer is terribly biased (calling the wealthy owners of those grand country houses invariably 'the toffs' and 'the aristos' which really got on my nerves), and unabashedly taking the servants' side. She cannot stop complaining about how badly the servants are treated by those terribly pampered people upstairs, all the while contradicting herself by writing the servants had it pretty good compared to other poorer people. The nouveau-rich people get a decent press though, but those who are aristocratic or otherwise old money get no sympathy whatsoever (strange. I'd imagine a writer would at least sort of like the very people she writes a book about!)
Also and even more shockingly, she gets her facts wrong. Most cringe-worthy is when she calls Camilla Parker Bowles the Princess of Wales. Apart from that she quite clearly knows of only one big ocean liner of the time (although she mentions a few others once), unsurprisingly it's Titanic (invariably called the 'tragic' or 'ill-fated' Titanic -- we KNOW what happened!), most probably because it's the one ship of the time she needs no research for: the movie will do.
Also, there were other fashion houses than just Worth - and the House of Worth was not the first couturier, nor the only one. Truly, the mistakes go on and on.
Don't buy this book unless you want any 21st century prejudices about that era neatly confirmed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting facts 20 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Most of us have stories from grandparents about this era. This book puts them together to give a view of life at different social levels in Britain in the late 19th early 20th century.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A complete dog's breakfast
I cannot believe that a book with such a poor structure and apparent lack of editorial input could be published. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Counterpoint
2.0 out of 5 stars Real Life
Just rather boring; a string of facts not very inspiring writing; This wa&s an area of work very dememning and tedious. This did not come across>
Published 6 months ago by Joey
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Really interesting as my grandparents were in service from a young age so was fascinating to see what there life would have been like
Published 6 months ago by jan
5.0 out of 5 stars a must
i would recomed this book to anyone who likes a good read just as i was told by a pal brilent
Published 14 months ago by mrs c payne
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT
I LOVED THIS BOOK, A REAL INSIGHT TO ANOTHER ERA, A SOCIAL HISTORY LESSON, VERY ENJOYABLE READING AND SO WELL WRITTEN I FELT I WAS THERE,
Published 14 months ago by 19FONTEINECOURT
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and very readable
This book was very informative and if, like me, you have watched the series and indeed things like Upstairs Downstairs, it goes a long way to explaining why things were done the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Diane Thorne
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Downton
Recommended background reading for those interested in the Downton Abbey way of life. Very informative. Fills in the gaps. Glad I didn't work in service!
Published 15 months ago by Delicately Elegant
5.0 out of 5 stars UPSTAIRS/DOWNSTAIRS IN ALL ITS GLORY
I loved the social history in this book. I could actually feel that I was there, probably as a humble scullery maid, but it made a reality of the glamourised life we see on TV.
Published 16 months ago by High Speed Mum
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
An excellent read. During the 18th and 19th centuries, going into Service was often the only choice for hard pressed , poor families, for employment. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Very interesting to read some of the facts about life in a Stately home. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in social history.
Published 16 months ago by Elizabeth J
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