“Even Lady Downall was the same in some respects.  I remember asking her if I could borrow a book from her library to read, and I can see now the surprised look on her face.  She said, ‘Yes, of course, certainly you can, Margaret,’ adding, ‘but I didn’t know you read.’  They knew that you breathed and you slept and you worked, but they didn’t know that you read.  Such a thing was beyond comprehension.  They thought that in your spare time you sat and gazed into space, or looked at Peg’s Paper or the Crimson Circle.  You could almost see them reporting you to their friends.  ‘Margaret’s a good cook, but unfortunately she reads.  Books, you know.'”

– Margaret Powell, Below Stairs

I forgot that I requested this at the library in a fervor of Downton Abbey fandom but when it came in I pretty much devoured it.  Powell’s writing style is like having a gossip session with a close friend.  It’s a memoir from a kitchen maid, born in 1907 but not written until 1968 so it’s neat to think that she’s reflecting on her past experiences and letting us see the vast difference in the way of life over a span of 60 years.

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