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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Lady's Maid: My Life in Service
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on 11 January 2012
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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on 23 November 2012
This memoir begins with Rose as one of four children of a Yorkshire stonemason, and his wife who took in laundry. Reading about Rose's day to day life is exhausting. She never seemed to have a moment to call her own, and that would stand her in good stead once she became Lady Astor's maid.

While it was a given that a person of her class would go into service, her dream was to travel. With the guidance of her mother she studied and trained so that she would be suited to the job of lady's maid in a wealthy family.

Once Lady Astor had her in her sights, Rose was destined whether she liked it or not to become her personal maid, a relationship that endured for 35 years and fulfilled her dream to travel all over the world, staying at the greatest houses and hotels and meeting the aristocracy and royalty.

Lady Astor announced early in their relationship that she intended to break Rose's spirit, and she came close to succeeding, until Rose started to fight back which she did with Yorkshire forthrightness.

Entrusted to carry jewellery worth thousands of pounds in her handbag, expected to be on call at every hour of the day and night, seven days a week, Rose writes with great affection of her employer, of their frequent spats, shared jokes and genuine fondness for each other. Rose's tale moves along at a rapid pace, humorous, opinionated and entertaining.

The book is 350 pages. I read it in two days and thoroughly enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the leading society hostesses of the twentieth century, a contradictory woman who was both penny-pinching and generous, spiteful and caring, and the woman who probably knew her better than anybody else.
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on 19 March 2012
A fascinating insight into a bygone era and the reltionship between the lady and her maid, simply but beautifully told. A delightful read and an honest account.
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on 27 January 2013
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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on 5 August 2013
If you are looking for a read that is interesting but not heavy, then this book is for you. It is one of those books that can be read in drips and drabs. The insight into this Lady's Maid's life and the life of the Astors, opens up a whole new world by fluttering around the edges.
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on 24 December 2011
I have been interested in the Upstairs/Downstairs life of servants since the age of 15 (now 62). This book is a great read, I could hardly put it down. I would love to have met Rose, she was a real character. I know that I could not have put up with Lady Astor's nasty ways.
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on 15 March 2016
I recently was browsing through the 1970s back catalogue of Desert Island Discs on iplayer. I heard an interview with Rose Harrison and her choice of discs. She seemed a fascinating person and when her book was mentioned, I looked it up and decided to read it. I wasn't disappointed. It is full of stories of a way of life that has been long lost. 'Miss Harrison' was ladies maid to Lady Nancy Astor for 35 years and so travelled the world with her. We get insights into above and below stairs alike, in a nice easy to read, no nonsense style, as you might expect from a straight talking Yorkshire lass. If you are a Dowton Abbey fan you'll definitely love this.
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on 13 July 2014
A well written and deeply felt book which gives a clear, though personal, account of the life and life's work of a lady's maid to one of the most famous titled women of her time. It examines not only the duties and demands of the job but the depth of the bond that is forged throughout the years. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about the lives of the aristocrats of the twentieth century as it truly reflects the nature of the period and gives detailed accounts of the personalities involved. An enjoyable read with a slightly old fashioned narration which adds to it's charm.
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on 22 September 2012
I have always had an interest in Nancy Lady Aster the American Lady who became the first women MP
in the British Parliament.
Rose her Ladies Maid cared for Lady Aster for many years until her death travelled abroad with her and saw how hard her Ladyship worked. Rose was privileged to meet politicians and famous people,people she could not have hoped to be aquanted with if she had stayed in Yorkshire.
Very interesting as it takes us through WW2 years and Lady Aster and Winston Churchills falling out times.
Rose was a very much loved part of the Aster Family.
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on 30 May 2015
Bought this for my elderly mother as she loved all the Margaret Powell books about ladies working in service. My mum reckons that this is an excellent read (henc the 5 stars) so I guess if you like Margaret Powell then you'll love this too. Personally I would rather watch paint dry but I guess this sort of thing is very much a matter of personal opinion.
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