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What the Butler Winked At: Being the Life and Adventures of Eric Horne, Butler Paperback – May 20, 2011
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About the Author
Eric Horne served various members of the nobility and gentry for fifty-seven years before retiring after World War I with a small pension from a former employer.
Top Customer Reviews
Fortunately, I purchased it in spite of the opinions of some of the previous reviewers.
One of the charms of the book is the lack of modern editing which would have only served to detract from the immediacy of the reading experience and the authentic voice of the author. There are some spelling errors. The language is true to its times and, I expect, to its place. Yes, the writer rambles at times, and tells some jokes and "funny stories" that to the modern ear are not all that funny. But the point is: they probably were then and, at any rate, were to him. I admit I had some difficulty understanding the point of a couple of his stories--just like you might if you found yourself transported back to 1923 and listening to a 70-some year old man tell you about his life in the second half of the century before that. He was not a professional writer and he obviously was not using a ghost writer to make up for that fact.
This book is a treasure and I hope to find out, if I can, how it happened to be currently republished. I'm so glad it was. It's like finding an old diary tucked away at the bottom of a trunk in your great grandfather's attic--complete with the spelling errors and full of personal observations, judgments, some gentle boasting and some regrets.
The book gives a very clear and unique glimpse into the world and the mind of a person working "in service" in the great houses before, during and after their decline. The author also shares some interesting conflicts regarding his feelings about the families and individuals who lived in them.Read more ›
One forgets that the book was written in the 1920s, after Horne had retired from service, so most of his experiences as a butler took place when great houses were lit by candles, bath water had to be carried upstairs in pails, and horse-drawn carriages were the main mode of transportation. (Watch the first season of Downton Abbey as a reminder of what that was like...)
If the book has one fault other than Horne's mostly-abominable grammar, it's that he could have written a much longer book. Whether it was a butler's natural reticence to reveal the secrets of his employers, or not knowing how much time he had left and he chose to only hint at what were probably some quite juicy tales both upstairs and down, the book left me wanting more!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The narrator was redundant in his descriptions of "butlerhood". It was a difficult to be motivated to finish this book.Published 6 months ago by Mary Beth C.
Mr. Horne gives a good accounting of his experiences, interwoven with stories from his lifetime of observation. His life was much harder than I would have imagined. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Shenandoah1865
It was interesting, but certainly not a great title. A biography of a guy who became a butler, and really pretty pedestrian. I didn't expect great writing, and didn't get it.Published 19 months ago by B. Macdonough
This book wasn't half as good as I thought it would be from various recommendations of other authors. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Katharine
Tales from behind the scenes from tight lipped buttlers. If you are a Downton Abbey fan you will understand that I bought this book feeding my habit. Read morePublished 22 months ago by DH
The book was an "easy read" which chronicled the life of Eric Holme . It was a little disappointing in it's "style" written rather amateurishly. Read morePublished on February 11, 2014 by Paul Guido
For me this was a fascinating voice from another place and time that serves as a valuable autobiographical document of the Victorian era. Read morePublished on January 5, 2014 by Barbara C.