1936. The nation has a new king, Edward VIII. But it is a turbulent time: poverty and unemployment affect many, but trouble few among the ruling elite. Oswald Mosley's New Party seems to offer the vision of the future. May Thomas' first job as a secretary to Sir Philip Blunt will open her eyes to the upper echelons of British society. Secrets are everywhere, most dangerous of all the horror that few in Britain dare voice: the inevitability of another war.
An epic saga of the upstairs and downstairs residents of an English country house which spans some 240 years and includes the stories of its original architect, a Victorian family that shared four decades of family history, soldiers billeted in the house during World War I, and a young couple who restores the house in the 1950s.
Edward VII, who gave his name to the Edwardian Age but was always known as Bertie, was fifty-nine when he finally came to power in 1901. He was only king for the last nine years of his life. The eldest son of Victoria and Albert, Bertie was bullied by both his parents.
Born in 1914 in the Tower of London where her father was a yeoman Warder, Peggy Furnivall is devastated when he dies. The family moves to Surrey, but scandal forces them back to London, where Peggy meets Jim Boxall. Peggy's feelings for Jim intensify, but World War II brings chaos to their lives.
World War II brings chaos to the lives of Peggy Furnivall and Jim Boxall: Jim leaves to join the RAF, and Peggy is forced to become head of her family. Peggy knows she must find the strength to survive if she is ever to find true happiness.
From its dawn in the 1660s to its twilight in the 1960s, Cliveden was an emblem of elite misbehaviour and intrigue. Conceived by the Duke of Buckingham as a retreat for his scandalous affair with Anna-Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury, the house later served as the backdrop for the Profumo Affair. In the 300 years between, the house was occupied by a dynasty of remarkable women each of whom left their mark on this great house.
As the effects of the war raging in Europe begin to be felt at home in London, Monica Dickens decides to do her bit and to pursue a new career, and so enrols as a student nurse at a hospital in rural Hertfordshire. By nature clever and spirited, she struggles to submit to the iron rule of the Matron and Sisters, and is alternately infuriated and charmed by her patients.
Unimpressed by the world of debutante balls, Monica Dickens shocked her family by getting a job as a cook-general. One Pair of Hands is a fascinating and thoroughly entertaining memoir of life upstairs and downstairs in the early 1930s.