Upstairs & Downstairs by Sarah Warwick

It’s the first time I finish a book and I give it 1 stars. Upstairs & Downstairs by Sarah Warwick had this honour, if I can say so. The book has the subtitle The Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey despite not talking about Downton Abbey at all.
Maybe I should start by saying why I finished it. This book was in our small library at the country estate I volunteer at. I read it when I didn’t have anything else to do and this is the only reason I finished it.

Upstairs & Downstairs by Sarah Warwick

The book is poorly written. It stated that it is about the Edwardian period, but mentions a law from 1820s, then goes forward to the 1940s. It makes no sense.

The author, a journalist without any historical background, portraits a biased view of the “inequalities” of the Edwardian country houses. Considering how people would live in the many slums, that were in all big cities in the Edwardian era, the life as a servant was amazingly comfortable.

There are a lot of pictures in the book, those are really interesting. Not all are from the period she was supposedly talking about, as you can expect, but at least those were nice to see.
Another thing I liked about the book is that she shared quotes from servants’ diaries; all the snippets negative towards the upper classes, of course. She talks about some Victorians-Edwardians, like Beatrix Potter, Virginia Woolf, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Winston Churchill. She doesn’t talk about their connection with their servants, with the exception of Churchill, so not sure why they were mentioned.

If I knew that she is an editor to an in-flight magazine with no background in history, I wouldn’t have even started the book. It seems that the book is written under the idea of: don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. That is a bit unfortunate considering she is a journalist.

Upstairs & Downstairs by Sarah Warwick

Details about the picture: I took this picture at the country estate I’m volunteering, on my knees, with me dressed as an Edwardian kitchen maid.
My rating: 1/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: No.
Published by: Carlton Book
Year it was published: 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Non-fiction. History
Pages: 128

About the author: Sarah Warwick is a London-based journalist. Currently she is an editor at N by Norwegian in-flight magazine and Senior Editor at travel media company, Ink. She is publications manager and trustee of HASTE, a charity that raises money to build schools in Africa. She has a part-time Masters in international development at Birkbeck University.
Website & Social Media Links: –

1 thought on “Upstairs & Downstairs by Sarah Warwick”

  • Oh no, that does sound disappointing. This is a kind of book I’d probably choose to read as well. I read memoirs of lady Lastor’s maid Rose, and also had mixed feelings. On one hand, a fascinating insight in the life both downstairs and upstairs, on the other, she was still very much in awe of her Mistress, who sounded quite unpleasant.

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