ROSE: My Life in Service by Rosina Harrison

ROSE: My Life in Service

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In 1928 Rose Harrison, a Yorkshire country girl, came to work for Lady Nancy Astor as her personal maid and remained until Lady Astor's death in 1964--this is her story of a life in what could be called extreme servitude. In spite of the fact that Rose became devoted to ""my lady"" and celebrates the years of travel, proximity to celebrities, and being a member of a ""wonderful family,"" she does not hestitate to say that my lady was ""sadistic and sarcastic."" She mimicked ""to hurt,"" shouted and rampaged, was known to have jumped on a table and kicked the floral decorations to pieces because it was not what she'd wanted. But our Rose stood up to my lady, even sliding in a few criticisms of Christian Science to which her mistress devoted somber morning readings, and the two bickered on through the years, with the sessions usually ended by my lady's final: ""Shut up, Rose!"" There are glimpses of my lady's goings out and comings in, boats, trains and grand dinners, and tales from Lady Astor's legendary butler, Lee, who remembers the days when noblemen would ""match"" footmen by height. Lots of tidbits about the family, and servants' gossip. For those Downstairs fans this is the real thing--painfully so, since after several chapters concerning this constricted life lived within another's tantrum, one will be tempted to quietly advise, ""Shut up, Nancy!

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1975
Publisher: Viking