The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago Paperback – Jan 6 2012
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Lots of background on the lives & customs of the day . i enjoyed very much
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One, the author refers to Camilla Parker Bowles as the Princess of Wales. While the Duchess of Cornwall is indeed married to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, she is not the Princess of Wales simply because she is married to him. Because of intense support and love for Diana, the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's participation in the demise of the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, public sentiment was grossly against Camilla being named Princess of Wales. Even though the Duchess and Prince Charles were married some years after Diana's death, public sentiment remained high in support of Diana's memory. Camilla was created Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall, by Queen Elizabeth II upon her marriage to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
The second blunder Hyams makes is the unmistakable envy in her writing tone towards those she continuously calls "The Toffs" and gives no explanation where the slang terms comes from. Her envy and dismissal of the privileged class is evident throughout the book and reads like a persuasive essay for Tax the Rich and Distribute the Wealth campaigns than a book about how life was lived by servants in the Downton Abbey years.
I bought this book because, like most, I am a fan of Downton Abbey but was very disappointed by it. If you read To Marry an English Lord, you will have a far more entertaining and objective read and you will not have the obvious liberal Pay Their Fair Share liberal slant of Jacky Hyams.
This book would have garnered a better rating if Hyams had left her political opinions out of it.
Also everything is repeated within the book. Either she did not have enough material to fill this relatively skimpy book or just latched onto facts and data and tended to state them in one place and expand on them in another. I cannot count how many times she mentions how servants did everything in order of their "place" within the workings of the servants hierarchy. Okay we get it.
If you have only seen the show and do not know much or anything about the Edwardian era, then this book will be useful and entertaining. But if you have read up on the subject, especially biographies about Edward VII and other luminaries, you will not find anything new.
Because the author is British I had to look up a few of her terms, for example toff, which she uses throughout the book. According to my dictionary it is an informal British term for a fashionable upper-class person. A fun word that exemplifies the entertaining aspect of this book.
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