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Cocoa at Midnight: The real life story of my time as a housekeeper

Tom Quinn

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction, History, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Social & cultural history

Insightful and endearing memoir of a life lived in service as a housekeeper at a stately home.

Kathleen Clifford was born in 1909. Her family lived in a tiny flat near Paddington Station and her earliest memories were of the smell of horses and the shrill whistle of steam trains.

For a girl from the slums there was really only one option once school was over - a life in service. She started work in 1925 as a lowly kitchen maid in the London home of Lady Diana Spencer's family. Here she heard tales of the Earl's propensity for setting fire to himself, as well as enjoying the servants' gossip about who was sleeping with whom.

The Spencers were just the first in a line of eccentric families for whom she worked during a career that lasted more than thirty years and took her from a London palace to remote medieval estates.

But despite long hours, amorous butlers and mad employers, Kathleen always kept her sense of humour and knew how to have fun. On one occasion she was almost caught in bed with her boyfriend who had to jump out of the window and run down the drive in his underwear to escape the local bobby.

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Praise for Cocoa at Midnight: The real life story of my time as a housekeeper

  • Praise for the Lives of Servants - Various

  • Reading this fascinating book is likely to unleash anyone's inner Bolshevik...! - Daily Mail

  • ...a fascinating portrait of the drudgery and servility of a domestic's life. - The Age

  • ...captures the subtelties of the English class system to an extraordinary degree. - Midstate Observer

  • If the Brothers Grimm had ended Cinderella where she was being forced to clean the house by her stepsisters, they might have accidentally been writing Rose Plummer's biography. The maid's story makes for harsh, heartbreaking, fascinating reading. - The Daily Telegraph, NZ

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