Blurb of book (I chose to use it because I think it has been written really well and I love it!) :
Told through Polly's point of view, her story enthralled me as her unique voice lifted off the page and she soon became very real in my mind and I imagined how I would feel in her place as she is only a year older. Her voice was very informal and chatty and the way she described the details of her new life at the Hall was very lively and not at all like a dull historical account.
The opening of the book was very strong and got straight to the point and the action in the story, as Jenny Walters says on the book's website that she cut most of the first chapter out in order to achieve this effect of 'drawing in.' I love it so much that I am going to include the first few paragraphs in this post below:
'I stood on the doorstep to the grand house, my heart thumping so hard that it was fit to jump out of my chest, raised the knocker and brought it down with a clap that echoed round the empty courtyard. A couple of pigeons pecking at crumbs fluttered up into the air, such a great noise in that quiet place startled me,too, though I had made it myself. For two pins I would have taken up my basket and ran all the way home, but there could be no turning back: the new year had begun and with it, a new life for me. I had arrived to start work as under housemaid at Swallowcliffe Hall- if only someone would let me in.'
Characters- The characters were all very authentic with natural flaws to their personality and I loved the range of characters in the book from Miss Harriet (the youngest daughter of the Vye family who live at Swallowcliffe Hall) who doesn't want to be lady like and sew but instead to be free to the stern on the outside but ind hearted Housekeeper.
Polly was very easy to relate to as she was just a 'normal girl' who goes through things that girls today of her age can relate to such as growing up, developing friendships and falling in love for the first time.
Historical description- Through the experiences that Polly has and her description I learnt a lot about life as a Victorian servant and the world 'below stairs' that I had not discovered in research. In reading it, you will find about social hierarchy, Victorian manners and decorum, households and methods of house-keeping, the roles of servants, workhouses, the constraints put on love and courting as a servant and fashion. To add to the historical setting and detail, at the beginning at each of the chapters, there was a short snippet from a Victorian Publication such as a manual on 'Mrs Nickleson's Guide for a Household Servant.' I found them incredibly interesting and set the scene for each chapter and sometimes hinted at what it was about.