The Great Silence and Below Stairs

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The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age, Juliet Nicolson

New York: Grove Press, 2010. Hardcover, 320 pages, $25. ISBN: 978-0-8021-4540-6.

In the wake the Armistice Day celebrations at the end of the Great War in 1918, Great Britain faced the horrific realities wrought by years in the trenches. Juliet Nicolson takes a multifaceted approach in telling the tale of a nation in mourning and healing during the two years following World War I.

Great Silence_Below Stairs

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, Margaret Powell

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012. Hardcover, 224 pages, $22.99. ISBN: 978-1-250-00544-1.

Long before Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey captured our imaginations, Margaret Powell’s memoir of her time as a kitchen maid and cook provided a glimpse into the life of the servant class of 1920s England. Originally published in 1968, Powell’s account of life in a great house is both candid and personal, transporting the reader to an era where the work began at 5:30 A.M. and the vantage point is vastly different from that of upstairs.


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