Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Minding the Manor by Mollie Moran
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.
Rate & Take
This was such a lovely read and a great glimpse into a time gone by. I'm sure we've all seen a movie or show or read a period book that depicted what life was like for someone in service, here is the goods straight from a someone who lived it for a decade. It gave me a lot to think about. This young girl working hard 15 hour days and for the most part was very happy, while I wondered how happy the moneyed people she served were. Tied as they were to rigid social protocols that narrowly defined how they were to conduct every part of their lives. Once World War II arrived the pampered days of manor's full of servants doing the bidding of a few, crumbled with the demands of feeding the war effort. I could not imagine how an aristocrat with no practical household skills went from being fully cared for to being the only caretaker around. Talk about rude awakening!
This book was a joy to read.