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I was selected to be a tour stop on “The Residence” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the book direct from the publisher Harper (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Books which stimulate a keen interest in their subjects:
It is not a widely known fact amongst my circle of friends, but I take after my Mum in regards to my love and curiosity about Presidential History! I grew up carting around a trivia book about the then 40 Presidents of the United States, as I was fascinated by the ‘little stories’ surrounding the men who worked inside the White House. My classmates and I, took learning the Presidents during fourth grade to a whole new level whilst we created our own trivia to remind us of the presidential ‘quirks’ and ‘personality traits’ that could help us score higher on our oral exams. Thereby, I would always remember some of the more curious trivia surrounding the Presidents as a whole, but definitely knew if your going out in the rain, sleet, or snow, best to wear a hat, coat, and gloves if you want to forestall an early demise! Singularly William H. Harrison (our 9th President) would be entombed forever for precipitating his own death, at least to my class of fourth graders! Taft on the other hand, gave us endless pleasure in making ‘pretend taffy’ whilst Hoover gave new meaning to what vacuum cleaners are known as across the Pond!
Visiting the Presidential Libraries is not just a prospect and dream of my Mum’s but one I share with her, as I love libraries in general, but there are certain collections inspired by the Presidents that I felt would be quite wicked lovely to visit! I haven’t yet had the pleasure to go to them, but I have visited my first ‘hometown’ of a President without planning too as Hope, Arkansas will remain the city that welcomed in travellers who needed assistance and gave back their hearts. Similarly, like the author Ms Brower I have long held a curiosity of sorts for those who work both upstairs / downstairs in large houses, estates, or castles — where the living proximity is tight but the depth of the divisions can be quite large.
This might explain why I have a penchant for these sorts of stories in motion pictures, as like the author, yes, I did draw a keen eye into the world Downton Abbey before the series broke my heart when Matthew died and crushed my soul a bit when certain story-lines from Series 4 were introduced. My heart has yet to be able to return, and thus, I might not see Series 5 or 6 as a result. However, it isn’t just my fascination with this particular era of history nor of the setting therein, as I loved watching The American President starring Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, and Martin Sheen. Sheen reprised his role on a tv series by the same creator settling into the role of the President on The West Wing. I loved the series, sharing an equal joy of it with my grandmother, except she was able to maintain an active viewing of it wherein I lost track of where I was in the episodes.
Overall, it is the stories of the everyday hours that seem to get lost in the shuffle. The little bits of ordinary life which barely have the chance to surfacing because there is always something much more dire and urgent to reveal instead. I understand the politics of the exclusions, but sometimes, it is quite nice to see a humbling view of a world that very few are allowed to enter, and to see a mark of their humanity as left behind by those who knew them best.
A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.
America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.
These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.
Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.
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Published by Harper Books
on 7th April, 2015
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