“I know how Britannia Mews started. I was walking through a semi-slum stable that was being converted into these elegant little town cottages, and I thought, ‘What a history that place has had since the day it was built! —carriages and horses, then desolation, now cocktail parties and theatre clubs.” Margery Sharp
The Faithful Servants is very much a book for the present, if you enjoy serialized dramas of the British class divide such as Upstairs Downstairs, or Downton Abbey. The novel presents another journey—a zesty one la Margery—through the ravages of war and social change, from the Edwardian era to the end of the second World War.
For generations of readers, the English country house has lived as a character in its own right. One can immediately think of many examples—Bleak House, Mansfield Park, Howards End, Wuthering Heights, and the most recent being Downton Abbey—stories, faces, dramas, love and conflict all instantly flash into mind just based on the name of the roof that housed them.
For an author whose work is chiefly characterized as ‘light fiction’, it may come as a surprise to find that Ms. Sharp was so very, very serious about the responsibility of crafting a good story.