The Cook's Tale

The Cook's Tale Review

Told in the first person by a woman who lived the hard life as a cook in a number of England's country houses, this is the true story of what life was really like below the stairs

People talk about feeling as if the modern world is split into "us and them" but they don't know what they're talking about. If you worked as a cook or as any kind of domestic servant when I was young you knew what "us and them" really meant.

In some houses in the English countryside, the cook had a lot more to do than just the cooking—and Nancy Jackman experienced it all. She was expected to kill the chickens, oversee the pig-sticker, deal with the tradesmen, and shout at the kitchen maids. Born in 1907 in a remote Norfolk village, she left school at the age of 14 to work as a cook for a local farmer. He forced her to stand in the rain when she made a mistake, physically abused her, and eventually tried to rape her—and that was only her first such experience in the world below the stairs. In this at times heartbreaking, at times hilarious, tell-all about the life of a cook and a kitchen maid, Nancy goes into detail about what it was like working for people who had no idea how to care for themselves—and how deeply things in the world of upstairs/downstairs changed in the 1950s, following the end of the Second World War.

Title:The Cook's Tale
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Maureen

    I enjoyed reading about life 'below stairs', and what was in fact a completely different world, definitely a case of 'Them and Us! I thought there could have been a bit more detail, but nevertheless i...

  • Kim A

    Very easy and enjoyable read and an interesting glimpse into the life of a cook in England both pre and post both wars 1 and 2....

  • Anna

    I just loved this! Thanks to my GR friend Kim who said she really enjoyed this, too. I felt like I was hearing Nancy Jackman's story in her own voice and that I was getting to know her in this memoir,...

  • Kayli

    I absolutely adored this book and am almost sad that I finished it. Nancy Jackman is a wonderfully captivating story teller and you truly feel as though you are sitting over a cup of tea having a chat...

  • Lauren

    Like the book about the maid, this was an interesting look at the real life of English servants. ...

  • Patsy

    Life below the stairs. Nancy Jackman was born 1907 - 1989. She left school and home at the age of 14. Soon after, she found a job as a domestic Kitchen Maid and later as a Cook. She grew up poor but h...

  • David Szatkowski

    This book is an easy read, quite fun. It is sort of like looking at the family pictures of another with commentary from a family member telling you who the people were. Nancy Jackman began as a domest...

  • I.M.SPINKS

    A Delightful ReadA lovely tale , especially for me being brought up by my very Victorian grandmother ; a tale that I could so very easily live and looked forward to the next chapter....

  • Jennifer Moss

    Good book that gave an insight into life as a cook and growing up in the 1900’s. Only reason it got 4 stars instead of 5 is because it was a very short book and could have had a lot more to it. ...

  • Daisy Mawdsley

    Disappointing ending a lovely insight in to domestic service...