For the purposes of our book club, my focus was on the food. But the hardship of Powell's life (and the lives of others in domestic service in England at the same time) is undeniable. This book, and the others Powell went on to write, expose the terrible conditions in which many had to work. A rare few servants lived comfortable lives. The Downton Abbey portrayal of servants is not nearly as harsh as was common, it seems. Powell describes situations in which very little regard or respect was given to her and the other staff. I was very humbled to read some of it.