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on 13 September 2012
Much more is known about rich and famous people in history than their servants. This is why it is fascinating to read any account of famous lives and people from a different perspective; I was hoping for a real peak behind the green baize door with this book.

Sadly not, though. Rosina Harrison comes across as a resourceful and extremely tough character, but I was left wanting to know more about her everyday life. She tends to concentrate on Lady Astor's dresses and social life, which frankly is a bit boring and is already well in the public arena. A book with Rosina at the centre would have been a good deal more interesting than yet another account of the Clivedon scandal, etc.
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on 20 September 2017
When I started reading this book I wasn't sure about it but , the More I read the more I liked it . I think it was the insight into the relationship between Rose and her ladyship. I will read it again .
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on 12 July 2017
Not necessarily the best written, but authentic - and with an eye for the detail of the times.
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on 7 June 2017
very good
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VINE VOICEon 16 July 2011
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. This is tackled during the book as Rose although called to do `war work' is allowed to stay as Lady Astor's maid as Astor was doing so much for the people of Plymouth (her constituency) and suffered at the hands of the German bombs more than once.

Rose paints a picture of hard work, which she seemed to thrive on as well as her passion to travel which was fulfilled even if it meant twice as much work for her in packing, unpacking and moving on again. Trips to America were common, as Astor was an American but plenty of travel through Europe as well as into Africa, to visit the many friends and acquaintances of the Astor family.

This book does do some name dropping but merely in reference to what happened between Rose and her ladyship. Churchill, Bernard Shaw, T.E. Lawrence and of course John Profumo. Rose has not fulfilled our desire to know what happened at Cliveden especially with the last name I mention. Rose is forthright in her approach to her writing, this book is about her and not about what did or did not happen in one of the defining moments of political history in the mid sixties. This is a book ultimately about the relationship between servant and mistress. In this book being republished it has fed into the nation's apparent current love for all things "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" and if you like programmes about such things as I do then you will love this book, even more so.
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on 16 January 2012
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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on 2 July 2012
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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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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on 8 April 2017
Got bored midway, its still sitting in the bottom of the pile by my bed and who knows when will I master to finish it....
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on 11 January 2012
I loved this! I couldn't put it down, it's a pleasure to read a 'real life' version of the life of people in service. Rose and her mother channelled her ambition to have the best of both worlds. She experienced a much better life than many below stairs because she was her ladyships maid. She travelled all over the world and stayed in some of the most sumptuous residences with her mistress. She writes in a very down to earth way about her privileges and the famous people she met. I loved her firey, strong relationship with Lady Astor. I was married at Clivedon House and therefore I can identify with the descriptions of the beautiful house and surroundings. Utterly loved this book!
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