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Showing 1-10 of 113 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 139 reviews
on August 2, 2014
This book had some very interesting and well-researched information. Unfortunately, it was repeated over and over again, in articles, quotations, bulleted lists, etc., to fill out the page count--with new information scattered through the repetitious matter to keep the reader from stopping a third of the way through. I would rather have read the pamphlet that a good editor could have made of it, and saved the time and frustration of wading through the very same information--often worded the very same way--that kept reappearing every few pages.
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on July 5, 2014
You do not have to be a fan of Downton Abbey to appreciate the meticulous research and presentation of social history which appears in this book. It is in fact social history and has very little to do with Downton Abbey other than the fact that the latter does play upon the social class distinction so explicitly explained in this- book. Maybe I was enthralled by the book because I have ancestors who were "in service" and the author supported their statements about how their young lives were affected by class distinction in the UK of their times. As an example, one of them actually said to me that they were slaves to their master; that they got little pay with one afternoon off a week and an occasional Sunday, that they worked extremely long hours, and that she took a job as a housemaid after WWI only to help support her many siblings and parents who were farmers. She was well educated but could find no other work at the time. Another was a governess for the same titled family and yet another a groundsman. In the book,the author openly states and confirms that being in service was in fact comparable to leading the life of a slave to a master. (For clarity, I must inject here that we all are aware that the terminology "slave" conjures up the slave of American history which is more severe than what is intended by its usage here.)

For me, this was a very fascinating presentation of the Edwardian era and the years to follow. It was extremely well written and easily read. In fact, I had trouble putting this book down.

In retrospect as well, I came to recognize that all classes were slaves to the demands of the time for even the masters had to adhere to challenging expectations that society demanded if they were to survive during the years of extreme class distinction. Many struggled to keep up financially and eventually estates were taxed so heavily that they were destroyed because they were no longer affordable. Class distinction continued for some time after the Edwardian era in the UK, and can still be found today at times or in individual personages, and this book cleverly explains all aspects of it.

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on December 20, 2012
I found most of the information interesting, but seemed like the book needed some editing. One of the previous reviewers mentioned Camilla being referred to in the book as the Princess of Wales, which may or may not be her correct title. I also noticed once occurrence in the book where the character played by Maggie Smith was referred to as the Dowager Countess of Crawley. Crawley is her family name, not part of her title. Her correct name and title is Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Due to these errors, it made me wonder how accurate was the remainder of the information in the book. I also, as an American, would have appreciated it if when money was mentioned it would have also been converted to US dollars, at least once for reference, rather than just stated in British pounds and adjusted for inflation.
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on August 11, 2015
anything about the history of this time is interesting.. but placed in the context of this famous series makes it doubly interesting. It really shows how both the poor and rich each were so tightly constrained to rigid, stupid social rules.
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on September 5, 2014
Many of the "facts" are delivered in generalities, lending them no meat. There are few anecdotes or real life case studies to back them up. I've never lived in an English manor but I could have written some of the passages. For example, a passage on arranged marriages with American heiresses is a dry three-page general description of the wife's duties and and expectations in such a marriage. This could have been backed up with an example taken from newspaper reports or historical diaries, but it's not.

Important to note: While the author references Downton Abbey throughout the book, this title is not about Downton Abbey. Hyams will introduce generic material on an aspect of life in an English manor by referencing Downton Abbey, but that's it. "Like the fictional daughters in Downton Abbey..."

The result is a very dry, vague book that often reads like a high school book report.
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on August 24, 2013
I liked it very much. It totally makes sense when comparing the PBS series to the real-life daily tasks of the butler, lady's maid, and footmen in the British series. I was exhausted when reading their daily work loads that were expected of them and the fact that they also had to continue this work and routine into the late evening. I was really interested in the rank of various jobs in the mansion especially the nannies job and her relationship "upstairs" with the children and parents. Seems like she was in a totally different domestic class being that she worked and lived upstairs near the family and nursery compared to the other servants, as I am a nanny myself. We are considered very important, however still considered the "hired help" when the parents want to get rid of you.
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on May 5, 2014
Very interesting book. The one downside was toward the end of the book when the author somehow switches to the political and social issues of the time such as healthcare and living conditions of the general populace.
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on August 29, 2014
I found the info in this book merely average. I would have liked it more if it had been better written and researched.
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on January 28, 2014
I liked the information presented in the book - it was a fairly easy read and entertaining (most of the time). However, the organization of the book was a bit confusing as it seemed as if there were random topics inserted into a particular chapter or section that didn't always "fit". It rather interrupted the flow of the chapter at times and left me puzzled and thinking that I had somehow skipped over a section (I was reading this via my Kindle). Besides that, I enjoyed the book and found it very interesting.
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on May 3, 2016
Loved it! Gives you real insight into what life was like for all classes of British people during the Edwardian (&Victorian period to a degree) period. You realize how very special the Crawleys of Downton Abbey were in that series.
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