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Minding the manor : the memoir of a 1930s English kitchen maid
2014
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Topics
Domestics
Servants
Wealthy lifestyles
Women's lives
Personal narratives
Setting
Great Britain - Europe
Time Period
1930s -- 20th century
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  Library Journal Review

In this downstairs memoir, Moran (b. 1916) details her career in service from scullery maid to head cook. At just 14, she left her small town in Norfolk for her first job in London, desperate for big-city life. Mis-chievous and boy crazy, she suffered mishaps in both work and love, giving readers a relatable tale of a girl growing into womanhood. However, this work can sometimes feel more like a novelization than a personal history. Moran recounts dialog throughout, and while she boasts a healthy memory in her 90s, it is doubtful that she has perfectly recalled every stitch of conversation during her career. For readers who can suspend disbelief, the book holds up as a nostalgic look at adolescence and the gradual breaking down of "upstairs, downstairs" culture in the aftermath of World War II. VERDICT Fans of Downton Abbey who are eager for supplementary material will enjoy this work that evokes the presence of a grandmother who has sat you down to spin tales of the "good old days."-Kate DiGirolomo, Library -Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
Born in 1916 in Norfolk, Mollie Moran is one of the few people still alive today who can recall working "downstairs" in the golden years of the early 1930's before the outbreak of WWII. She provides a rare and fascinating insight into a world that has long since vanished. Mollie left school at age fourteen and became a scullery maid for a wealthy gentleman with a mansion house in London's Knighsbridge and a Tudor manor in Norfolk. Even though Mollie's days were long and grueling and included endless tasks, such as polishing doorknobs, scrubbing steps, and helping with all of the food prep in the kitchen, she enjoyed her freedom and had a rich life. Like any bright-eyed teenager, Mollie also spent her days daydreaming about boys, dresses, and dances. She became fast friends with the kitchen maid Flo, dated a sweet farmhand, and became secretly involved with a brooding, temperamental footman. Molly eventually rose to kitchen maid for Lord Islington and then cook for the Earl of Leicester's niece at the magnificent Wallington Hall.
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