If any of you are craving a little more of the ‘upstairs, downstairs’ lifestyle now that Downton Abbey is in between seasons, I have a little book to recommend to you.
Lady Nancy Astor
I recently finished ‘Rose- My Life In Service to Lady Astor’.
It was a sweet memoir of the ladies maid who served Lady Astor, the first woman in Parliament. American born Lady Nancy Astor was fiery, strong willed and temperamental. She met her match in Rose Harrison, the hard working, indefatigable ladies maid who was pretty strong willed herself. Her struggles to look after the needs of Lady Astor remind me of the young professional in “The Devil Wears Prada”, accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks while handling an enormous workload.
Originally published in 1975, this book is back in paperback, and a great little spring read. It’s not heavy into drama or scandals, just a sketch of what it was like for one woman to work for one of the most famous and richest women in England. There are plenty of brushes with royalty and travels to exotic locals.
Lady Nancy Astor
One story I loved was how Rose, when accompanying Lady Astor on trips, was responsible for carrying all of the jewelry that her Lady would be wearing. She was entrusted with a small handbag that had to remain with her at all times, containing tiaras, necklaces, and other jewelry worth a large fortune while boarding ships, trains, or airplanes. All the while she would be overseeing the removal of baggage, handling the tickets and traveling papers, and tending to the clothing and other needs of her Ladyship. I found this amazing. She had earned her trust through her excellent service and hard work. It was her duty to wash much Lady Astor’s clothing. Trained as a dressmaker, she made or altered dresses and also sewed dainty, lacy slips and underwear.
I hope you enjoy this sweet spring read!