Friday, 27 January 2012

The Lady's Maid My Life in Service - Rosina Harrison.

“The Lady’s Maid” is the autobiography of Rosina Harrison, it was first published in 1975 with the title “My Life In Service”.
It tells the story of a working class, Yorkshire lass born in 1899.
Rosina’s parents were both in service when they met, her mother was working as a laundry maid at Tranby Croft, a large country house, and her father was employed as a stonemason by the Marquess of Ripon.
As a child Rose (Rosina) was a tomboy and liked nothing better than being the goalkeeper in a rough game of football with the lads.
Her mother did not approve of this unladylike behaviour and in order to give Rose the best possible start in life she was encouraged to stay on at school, two years past the usual leaving age of fourteen, to receive extra tutoring from the Headmaster and his wife.
Another rare advantage which the family had was a piano and Rose and her siblings had weekly piano lessons at a cost of four pence each.
When she left school at sixteen Rose received a five year apprenticeship to Hetherington’s, a large clothing establishment in Ripon, Yorks. although she only stayed for two.
Whilst in Ripon she also had weekly French lessons, at sixpence each.
As Rose’s one wish in life was to travel her mother offered this advice
 “In service there are two servants who usually go everywhere with their masters or mistresses, valets and ladies maids”
from then on it was only a matter of time before Rosina’s became a lady’s maid.
Her first position in 1918 was as a “young ladies maid" to Lady Tufton’s daughters, Patricia and Ann. Four years later, after the death of her father, Rose became lady’s maid to Lady Cranborne of Mayfair, London with whom she stayed for five years.
“she (Lady Tufton) was a pleasure to serve, my life was interesting, I was fulfilling my ambition to travel, unfortunately there was only one stumbling block, money”
Rosina’s annual salary was £24.00.
In August 1928 Rosina moved to Cliveden, home of Lord Astor and his American heiress wife, Nancy, (daughter of Charles Dabney Langhorne of Richmond, Virginia) to take up the position of lady’s maid to their daughter Wissy (Miss Phyllis Astor).
‘I was able to get on well with everyone below stairs and above, or so I thought until I began working for Lady Astor…’
Lady Astor was the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat, a Christian Scientist, a social butterfly and a difficult employer who tested her servants to the limit.
Rose’s true Yorkshire grit, however, made her a worthy opponent and over the 35 years that Rose served Lady Astor their relationship strengthened into a deep friendship.
Although much has been written about the Astors, their lifestyle, politics and, later on, the scandal which centred on Cliveden, "The Lady’s Maid" is Rose’s personal account of how life was lived upstairs and downstairs and includes many anecdotes from other servants who were in service with her.
A must read for "Downton" fans.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Food For Thought.

Jain @ once in a blue moon and Mary @ home is where the boat is are once again hosting food for thought  and have selected 22 books to share during 2012.
Jain outlined the idea like this…..
will visually share our reviews this year, be it a special scene that caught our eye, an action, place or food, the choice is ours. the true idea behind food for thought is to get extra hands on time with our reading. I can tell you it’s fun – if you would like to join in, please email us and we will be happy to share the books and dates to come. I wish you happy reading and come play between the lines. 
Having enjoyed many of their fft posts in the past I decided it would be fun to join in this time and so emailed jain who kindly sent me the list of books and dates.
When I saw that the first fft post was due on the 20th January I rushed to amazon, placed an order for “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern and crossed my fingers that it would arrive in time for me to participate.

The book arrived earlier this week and I am thoroughly enjoying it but haven’t finished it yet.
The book jacket is, itself, a work of art, the black edged pages and pattern end papers draw you immediately into a magical black and white world, where nothing is what it appears to be and illusion is all.
“The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it…
 it is simply there, when yesterday it was not”.

 “ Le Cirque des Rêves”.
Opens at nightfall, closes at dawn. 

The Night Circus is the setting for a duel  between two young illusionists.
Celia, daughter of Prospero the Enchanter and Marco, orphaned protégé of the mysterious Alexander H. Within the black and white tents of the Circus of Dreams they compete to create enchanted worlds such as the Cloud Maze, the Stargazer ride, the Carousel, and the Wishing Tree.
As you roam from tent to tent you might encounter Tsukiko the tattooed contortionist, as she folds her body into the smallest of glass cases before disappearing completely from view.
Or stand bemused by the Snow Queen, the Empress of The Night or the Black Pirate, just three of the living statues which never move.

Perhaps a visit to Isobel, the fortune teller with her Tarot cards is more to your liking?
Take another path to discover the red haired twins, Widget and Poppet, they will amaze you with their somersaulting, black and white kitten circus act.
Wherever you turn there is always something to delight.

I have quite a few chapters to read before I reach "The End" and plan on settling down later, with a cup of tea and some orange, chocolate & chocolate chip, cup cakes, to join like minded rêveurs for another night time visit to “ Le Cirque des Rêves”.

Linking this post also to Weekend Cooking @ Beth Fish Reads

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Books I read in 2011

A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly
A Place of Secrets - Rachel Hore
Back When We Were Grownups - Anne Tyler.
Blessed Are The Cheesemakers - Sarah-Kate Lynch.
Crazy Ladies - Michael Lee West.
Fall On Your Knees - Ann-Marie MacDonald.
Future Homemakers Of America - Laurie Graham.
Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs.
Holy Fools - Joanne Harris.
I Still Dream About You - Fannie Flagg.
Jump - Jilly Cooper.
Just One Look - Harlan Coben
Little Bitty Lies - Mary Kay Andrews
Mad Girls In Love - Michael Lee West
Made in The USA - Billie Letts
Mermaids In The Basement - Michael Lee West
Mrs Charles Darwins recipe Book - Bateson & Janeway.
One Day - David Nicholls.
Pomegranate Soup - Marsha Mehran.
Recipe For Life - Nicky Pellegrino.
ROOM - Emma Donoghue
Run - Ann Patchett.
Salting Roses - Lorelle Marinello
Savannah Blues - Mary Kay Andrews
She Flew The Coop - Michael Lee West
Songs Of The Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult.
Summer School - Domenica de Rosa.
The Abduction - Mark Giminez.
The Best Of Times - Penny Vincenzi
The Big Picture - Douglas Kennedy
The Black Echo - Michael Connolly.
The Glassblower of Murano - Marina Fiorato
The Honk & Holler Opening Soon - Billie Letts
The Lady And The Unicorn - Tracy Chevalier.
The Last Apache Girl - Jim Fergus
The Loop - Nicholas Evans
The Memory Keepers Daughter - Kim Edwards
The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Road Home - Rose Tremain.
The Various Flavours of Coffee - Anthony Capella.
The Villa In Italy - Elizabeth Edmondson
The Wind In The Willows - Kenneth Grahame.
Trunk Music - Michael Connolly
Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen
Worth Dying For - Lee Child.